Leaf-raking is one of autumn's most burdensome chores, but here are two excuses not to do it this weekend:
1. Raking leaves may kill fish. The Ohio Environmental Protection Society has asked residents to leave their fall foilage on their lawns, because leaves that are raked into piles for pick-up by city workers are getting carried into storm drains and waterways. An abundance of leaves in water can cause an overabundance of algae, which takes oxygen that the fish need to survive. Tim Haab of Environmental Economics scoffs at the idea that "falling leaves are now an environmental problem," though - and one that's easy to avoid, at that. When you rake, bag your leaves in a biodegradable container such as this one, so they won't suffocate any fish. Compost them.
2. Nature will take care of them for you. Unless you have a very heavy layer of leaves, they won't smother your lawn. Most lawns are going dormant by the time leaves start to fall, so the myth that leaves will kill grass is false. Leaves biodegrade, of course, and they'll decompose by the spring. One good way to ensure that they break down faster is to mow the layer of leaves to break them into pieces and get nutrients into the soil faster. According to Fine Gardening Magazine, this method has been proven to increase the health of your lawn.
Of course, many people don't like the look of leaves on a manicured lawn, and other neighborhood associations have regulations about yards must look. They can also make sidewalks slippery, so it's best not to leave them where they could hurt someone. And no one would ever want to begrudge a kid the pleasure of jumping in a huge pile of leaves. If you must rake, don't collect your leaves in plastic bags, though - it's environmentally irresponsible, and a huge waste when they're so easy to compost. Here's a thorough guide to composting from Pennsylvania's EPA - with it, you'll have no need to purchase mulch next spring.