Why are there still leaves on the Trail?

Ethan, Cultural Trail Horticulture Manager

I am aware of the leaves,  I am not above raking the leaves, I am not even too lazy to rake the leaves. Here are 5 reasons there are leaves are on the trail: 

  1. What’s the rush?
    We all look forward to different parts of the year. A good snow fall in winter, the first pops of color in spring, the warm nights of summer, or the turning leaf colors of fall. Don’t be afraid to appreciate the process. Do not feel pressure that once the leaves hit the ground we have to immediately rake them up and ship them off to the dump. I believe the leaves offer a nice soft texture to the landscape and give it some warmth, before we get ready for the winter months.

    leaves on the ground

    *(These 2 images were taken on the same day. One bed has already been cleared of leaves while the other has had only a some of the leaves removed)

  2. The pollinators.
    As we learn more about the importance of pollinators in the larger ecosystem we are learning more about what they need to survive. Beyond just food and water some need a place overwinter. A tiny pile of leaves goes a long way.

  3. It is healthier for the plants. 
    Leaves have that season’s nutrients which were absorbed, when the leaves fall and decompose they redeposit those micro-nutrients back to the soil. 

    *Pro-tip for your home- Frequent mowing of your turf lawn will keep you from having to rake your lawn and your lawn will benefit. If you don’t trust me, Purdue and many other universities have done the research! https://turf.purdue.edu/keep-mowing-to-mulch-those-tree-leaves-2/

  4. We’re “eco-savvy” a.k.a Resourceful a.k.a. We’re smart with $$
    The trail has 525 trees, thats a lot of trees and each tree has a lot of leaves.. to get every leaf would require a whole crew of leaf blowers, leaf vaccums, and large trucks. This would not only costs a lot of money it burns lots of carbon and all have to be disposed somewhere.

  5. They are being removed as needed (hopefully you haven’t noticed)
    While the leaves offer many benefits there can be too much of a good thing. Certain areas of the trail have WAY to many leaves in the same spot. When this happens plants can get suffocated, the leaves cover the trail or it just looks like the space isn’t being cared fo, if this is the case the leaves are raked and composted.*Pro tip for your home- Don’t let leaves pile too high in your ornamental beds, as the winter progresses the leaves will get wet and start creating a thick mat which could suffocate your plants, make sure to compost the extras. 

    Any thing else about the Indianapolis Cultural Trail horticulture program you’re dying to know? Send me an email and I’ll write about it in another blog post! ehochstein@indyculturaltrail.org