Let’s be real, raking leaves is awful.

It may feel rewarding once it’s done and you may find yourself jumping into the giant pile when you are finished, but is it really worth the backache, hand cramping and sweating?

The answer is no, and I’m happy to discover that it’s actually beneficial to keep the leaves where they land this fall. According to experts, your grass, gardens and local wild animals will thank you.

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The conversation started Tuesday morning during the Michael and Maddie Mindbender when we discovered that one out of six people rakes leaves before Thanksgiving.

While Gazelle admitted to enjoying the workout, I was adamant that it was the worst part of fall, and after a bit of digging, I learned how pointless it truly is.

Don’t Rake, Save Animals

David Mizejewski, a naturalist and contributor to National Wildlife Federation, explained how leaves actually offer a lot of benefits for wildlife and gardens.

“A leaf layer several inches deep is a natural thing in any area. ... The layer is its own ecosystem,” he said. “Many wildlife species use the leaf layer as their primary habitat including salamanders, chipmunks, wood frogs, box turtles, toads, shrews, earthworms, millipedes and thousands of insect species.

That’s interrupting a pretty large ecosystem just by raking.

“Ninety-four percent of species rely on the leaf layer to complete their lifecycle,” Mizejewski said. “If you rake up and throw away all of your leaves this fall, you’ll be getting rid of important habitat for these beautiful and beneficial insects, many of which are pollinators.”

Leaves Are Like Free Mulch and Fertilizer

Let the rake continue to rust away in the shed and pull out your lawn mower instead. Jennifer Noonan and Bob Vila of Lawn & Garden explain how a few passes over the leaves will mulch them and bring a bunch of benefits to your property.

“By choosing to mulch leaves instead of raking them, you can improve the health of your soil, save money on plastic garbage bags and eliminate the need for city pickup and disposal,” they wrote.

As the leaves decompose, they fertilize your lawn.

In short, raking the leaves is a chore that needs to die alongside that old rake you have had for years.

Your back and the ecosystem will thank you.

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