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Ask Lyn: Leave the Leaves Out of the Lake

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Lyn Crighton Posted by: Lyn Crighton

Dear Lyn,

It’s so beautiful at the lake in the fall, but there are SO MANY LEAVES on my lawn! I don’t have much time and I don’t want to spend all weekend doing yardwork. Can’t I just blow my leaves into the lake? Aren’t they going to end up there anyway?

Signed, Not a Fan of Leaves

Dear Not A Fan,

I am so glad you get the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this season. The abundance and diversity of trees along the shoreline is what provides the kaleidoscope of color. And the blanket of crunchy, colorful leaves on the ground should be handled with the lake’s care in mind.

Kids raking leaves
Even if they are not happy about it, everyone can help rake the leaves!

It may be tempting to use our lakes as nature’s garbage disposal, but emptying yard debris into the lakes can become a major water quality issue. The organic matter builds sediment that fills in the lake’s nearshore areas. Then, as the debris decomposes it causes nutrient overloading in the water, creating next spring and summer’s algae blooms and increasing the growth of nuisance weeds. In some areas, this practice could even increases the need for dredging. The decomposing plant matter also decreases dissolved oxygen levels that can lead to the death of aquatic organisms like fish.

As tempting as it is to simply dump instead of properly dispose, we all play a part in keeping our lakes and rivers healthy. Keeping them around for future generations is as simple as making small conscientious decisions every day. Taking care of the lake can be as easy as mulching or bagging your leaves, or for the more ambitious, starting a compost pile for your garden next season. We wish you all a safe and happy fall season!