Rainfall and Fallen Leaves

Here in California, we have been experiencing rain so abundant that the ground is saturated, causing flooding.

In the image below, rain is shunted off of homes and hardscape toward the street, which then channels the rainwater into a storm drain that sends it to the ocean.

Photo by E. Wallace

Thankfully, some of the rain falls on natural landscapes that soak up the water instead of sending it to the ocean.

Have you noticed how much better the landscape soaks up rain when you have leaf litter protecting the soil?

Water puddles on soil without leaf litter. (E. Wallace)
Leaf litter soaks up rain on a DG path, preventing erosion. (E. Wallace)

The Xerces Society’s Leave the Leaves campaign is gaining attention among homeowners because of the overarching benefits that fallen leaves have on soil, plant life, pollinators, and animals.

When we resist the urge to rake and tidy our landscape of excess leaves, we help caterpillars that live there, and birds looking for protein-rich insects nestled under the leaves.

Below are two beautiful examples that illustrate why leaves are important to life.

Leaving the leaves on the ground not only protects butterflies, but also enriches the soil itself. As the leaves break down, they provide natural fertilizer to the plants.

Leaving the leaves is a great way to celebrate the turn of the seasons, while also helping soil, plant, and animal life. Happy New Year and thanks for resisting the urge to rake!

5 responses to “Rainfall and Fallen Leaves”

  1. So informative! Thank you for sharing how those fallen leaves that I’m so quick to tidy up are providing so much for nature to thrive.


  2. Any advice you can give to combat HOAs in an effort to leave the leaves is greatly appreciated. Thank you for this article!


    1. Hi. The only way I have found to have an impact on HOA’s landscape practices is to either become a board member or get on the landscape committee. Once you are on the landscape committee, you can begin to work with the association’s landscape contractor. After many years of patiently working together with the contractor, the crew chief understands why leaving some leaves will actually help improve maintenance in the common areas. But mostly, when we accept the challenges the landscape contractors experience: having to please homeowners, the management company, and board members with their own ideas about how landscapes should look…you see that just reducing the planting of invasive trees is a good place to start. I hope that helps.


      1. Thank you very much for your advice and thoughts… and again, for this article.


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