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An Easy Garden Tip to help Floods in the Future

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Original date published: January 2, 2021. Author: Kevin Jinn

In wake of the flooding disasters around British Columbia, now is the time to look around for ways we can help strengthen our communities in response to climate change and extreme weather. This begins with our own landscapes, and there is one simple gardening practice you can do right away: Leaving the leaves.

If you have trees on your property, come Fall you probably spend a few hours raking, bagging and removing the leaves off your property every year. However, exposed bare soil doesn’t hold rainwater as well as leaf mulch. Leaves left on the ground help ensure water sits long enough before overrunning our drainage systems. Then in summer, the leaves act as a mulch that conserves water, helping your plants stay hydrated in dry periods and drought. The leaves will eventually break down and release nutrients back into the soil for your plants to reabsorb, making healthier plants. Leaf litter also provides habitat for native insects and wildlife, including bumblebees, butterflies, moths, frogs, and fireflies (in some parts of BC!).

If every yard in our communities got on board with leaving the leaves, together we could help take the toll off of our city drainage systems in the event we have another extreme weather situation.

“We need to rethink our old views of gardening as we deal with new challenges of climate and environment”

We can rake leaves onto garden beds, leave them where they fall, or pile leaves to make new garden beds. While leaving the leaves isn’t the ultimate solution to extreme weather, it is one of many ways we can help mitigate the risk of flooding during heavy rainstorms. With future weather and climate challenges ahead, we need to build more resilient communities, and our gardens can be an easy place to start, with the potential for a huge impact if every neighbourhood yard works together. So consider this next Autumn: Leave the leaves, and help manage rainwater in your community today.


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