It's all about bugs and birds.

By Steve Bender
November 05, 2018
Credit: Elizabethsalleebauer/Getty Images

As if I don't have enough guilt. Now the Nature Conservancy of Canada is implying I'm an ecoterrorist for removing the fallen leaves from my lawn. And I thought I was just doing my duty as a responsible neighbor to prove my house isn't abandoned.

Here is the environmentalist argument. Leaf litter on the ground provides cover that many bugs and larvae need to survive the winter. In turn, those bugs and larvae provide nutritious protein to hungry birds that spend the winter in your area. So if you love birds – and what miscreant doesn't – let the leaves lay.

Grumpy has some problems with this. First, a thick layer of leaves left on the lawn could smother it or cause disease problems. Second, I don't like walking on wet, slimy leaves all winter and tracking them inside the house. Third, not removing leaves makes me look like a lazy slob. I don't mind being a slob, but don't call me lazy.

WAATCH: Mow, Don't Rake, Those Leaves!

I don't rake my leaves to the curb for the city to pick up, unlike most of my neighbors. Heck, I don't rake them at all. In my front yard, I set my mulching mower at two inches and run over the lawn. It chops the leaves into fine particles that filter down through the dormant grass and decompose on the soil, enriching it, decreasing the amount of fertilizer it needs, while also increasing the number of earthworms that birds eat. Does that sound evil to you? In the back yard, which is mostly wooded, I blow the leaves into the woods. I'm sure that makes bugs happy.

Because I cut my winter lawn tall, bugs find plenty of hiding places between the blades. Every sunny day, I see bluebirds perched on the electric lines, scanning the surface below for bugs. I also maintain bird feeders in the front and back yards to feed my feathered friends. I think I'm doing my part.

Nope, not going on a guilt trip today. Mortification will have to wait.