Leaf Blowing and Wildlife

The enormous number of leaves which fall in the squares, especially in autumn, have to be dealt with and the usual way is by using leafblowers. Noisy, yes; causing a dust, yes; but economical on scarce manpower and important for exposing the grass, in particular, to as much light as possible in the winter. But what about the effect on wildlife?

Greg Hitchcock, Nature Conservation Officer at Camden Council, said: ‘The disturbance of wildlife from leafblowers is a possibility, yes. However, the areas from which leaves are removed are those areas where leaves are not generally allowed to accumulate.

The regular removal of leaf-fall as part of horticultural management prevents these areas becoming suitable for small mammals. This is especially true if these areas are also exposed, and/or subject to disturbance by people or dogs. Leaf-blowing is also undertaken during the day, when we would expect hedgehogs to be well tucked away in undisturbed, well-vegetated areas, and other small mammals to be tucked up in their burrows.

The wildlife most likely to be impacted by leafblowing in these situations are invertebrates. However, while less leaf-fall is required to provide cover for invertebrates, the value of that leaf-litter to invertebrates (and anything that feeds on them) will depend on the species composition and species diversity of those leaves, and whether leaf-litter communities have been allowed to establish long-term.

Some of our parks have ‘nature areas’, typically scrubby or woodland areas, where leaf-litter is allowed to accumulate to provide shelter and forage for wildlife, and form leaf-litter communities long-term.’


  1. The less use of leaf blowers the better. Ideally not used at all though I know lawns need leaf matter to be removed. But flower beds do not. Leaves will not only protect and shelter mammals and inverts, they insulate them. Further, leaves are pulled down into the soil by worms, helping to maintain soul structure. Leaf blowers? – avoid at all costs. Taking WD be less damaging to the environment. Thank you

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    1. Do you mean: Raking would be less damaging? That takes a lot of people for all these garden squares!

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