Natural Highlights: The Benefits of Leaf Litter


The leaves carpeting the floors of our forests are an integral part of the ecosystem, returning nutrients to the soil through the action of a multitude of microbes and invertebrates, retaining rainwater, slowing runoff, protecting soil and roots from erosion and temperature extremes.  Leaf litter is also crucial habitat for lots of small creatures.  Huge numbers of butterfly and moth species, for example, overwinter in leaf litter as eggs, caterpillars, pupae, or adults. Some 122 bird species - including our neighborhood robins, towhees, brown thrashers, and others - are known to forage for food in leaf litter

Although many homeowners can't or won't put up with dead leaves on their lawns, those who want to make their yards and gardens more hospitable to wildlife might want to explore ways to leave at least some of their leaves on the ground -  by composting them in a back corner or placing them in beds and around trees.  Check out the online resources below for more information on the benefits of leaf litter!

Posted by Cathy Justis at 7:23 PM