Perhaps you – as we are – are deep into leaf-raking time. So let us take a moment to remind you what NOT to do with your leaves.
Don’t dump them into a waterway or wetland. Not into a creek, stream, river, pond, marsh, etc.
Sure, leaves are going to fall and blow into the water. But things get out of whack when we add in quantities of leaves far beyond what happens naturally.
First of all, a big influx of leaves can clog up small streams (and culverts) and/or build up the bottom of a waterway, which makes the waterway shallower and more likely later to flood or spill over. Plus, shallower water tends to heat up faster in the summer, and that warmer water can be less accommodating to animals and more likely to lead to problematic algae blooms.
Second, an unnatural extra “load” of organic matter – say, from all the leaves off your lawn – can lead to the deaths of the animals (big and small) that live in the water. Here’s how. When organic matter decomposes in water, that process can use up the water’s dissolved oxygen (D.O.). Less dissolved oxygen makes it harder for animals to breathe. Drop the D.O. low enough, the animals die.
Third, for reasons 1 & 2, dumping leaves in waterways is illegal in many communities.
A TV/radio pitchman for one of the big lawn-fertilizer companies – one who speaks with an appealing brogue – urges us to “Feed your lawn. Feed it.” Rather than paying for a big bag of fertilizer, you can feed your lawn naturally by using your mower to mulch the leaves. These shredded leaf bits will add nutrients to the lawn as they decompose to become part of the soil.
Remember: no matter where you live in Connecticut, you live in the watershed of Long Island Sound. The water that runs off each of our properties feeds the Sound. Feed it well.
– Dave Sigworth, Maritime Aquarium publicist