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Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – Nov. 7, 2022 – What Should Rural Burlington Residents do with Fallen Leaves? Rake it or ‘Leaf’ it?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Mailbag

Welcome to the Mayor’s Monday Mailbag, an initiative Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and the Mayor’s Office launched to share weekly answers to questions from the public we’ve received through our main email inbox at or the Mayor’s social media platforms.

At the end of the month, we publish a roundup of those most pressing questions we’ve received in the weeks prior.

Mayor’s Monday Mailbag – Nov. 7, 2022


“I live in rural Burlington — what should I do with fallen leaves: rake it or ‘leaf’ it?”


While residents in the urban area of Burlington will receive leaf pick-up services from the City, autumn leaves may pose a problem for rural residents – but that does have to be the case.

The Take Action Burlington team recently shared some handy information on how to not only give your back a rest from raking, but also give your garden a boost this winter.

Many of us are used to raking leaves and either bagging them up or, in many parts of Burlington, putting them at the edge of the property for the annual loose-leaf curbside collection program. However, if you keep a layer or two of leaves on your lawn or in your garden beds, they will break down and provide valuable nutrients while helping to keep moisture in and weeds out.

In addition, this can be beneficial for critters — important to the balance of our eco-system — over the winter season who can hide under the leaves and help increase biodiversity. Also, birds will thank you for providing a food source.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you have a thick layer of leaves, you might need to spread them out a bit so as to not choke your lawn — or break them down with your electric lawn mower. You can even add them to your gardens to help protect the plants against freeze and thawing conditions.

If you choose to rake leaves on your lawn and are physically able to, a better suggestion is to hand rake rather than using a leaf blower. Not only are you getting some exercise, but you are also reducing noise pollution that can increase stress levels, and also reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. If using a leaf blower is physically easier for you, an alternative is an electric leaf blower; it’s a bit quieter and cleaner from an emissions point of view.

The David Suzuki Foundation provides some further insight into the benefits of leaving leaves (or some of it) in place. Butterflies begin in leaves, as larvae. Those brown, dead leaves are the planet’s butterfly nursery. They’re home to butterfly larvae, microbes and worms. And leaf litter is where many species of butterflies and moths stay over the winter season as pupae.

In addition, animals such as toads, shrews and salamanders benefit from leaf litter, using it to hide or hunt. Click this link for more information on how you can provide winter cover for pollinators and other important creatures where you live.

IMPORTANT REMINDER — DO rake leaves out of sewers and drainage pathways to ensure that water can find its way out of your garden.

For residents in the urban area of the city who choose to have their leaves collected, there is one more week of raking before the City of Burlington’s loose leaf collection program starts on Nov. 14. Click here for more on what you need to know about the program.

Rural residents who choose to rake, can bag leaves to be collected on their regular garden waste collection days, or drop it off at the Halton Waste Management site at 5400 Regional Road 25 at a minor fee. Click here for more information on the Region of Halton’s Waste Management Site fees.

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