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SPRING clean-up and those leaves !

Waupaca Chain O’Lakes POST

A BLOG focused on Education, Conservation and Restorative Stewardship

keeping our Land and Water Healthy for Future Generations

Julie Mazzoleni -Stewardship and Resources Committee

April 16, 2023


Please do not put leaves in the lake.

Here’s why -

When leaves fall from trees and land on the ground, they naturally decompose into the soil adding organic matter and nutrients back to the soil. When leaves are raked into lakes and streams, those same added nutrients (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous) feed algae, triggering algae bloom. Too much algae bloom in our lakes will eventually cause a depletion of oxygen, harming fish and other aquatic wildlife and native vegetation.

Bottom line, if you rake leaves into the lake, you’re adding phosphorous (like yard fertilizer) which increases algae bloom (one pound of phosphorous will produce 500 pounds of algae - YIKES !! ).

High amounts of algae can make the lake unhealthy for you and your family to swim and play in. And as mentioned above, it's harmful to fish, frogs and other wildlife.

When lakes are healthy, there's not only a greater ABUNDANCE of fish, but a wider VARIETY. Great news for all you fishermen out there !

Lastly, when leaves are raked into the lake, they rarely stay on our property. Please be considerate of neighbors.


When the weather warms, we all get excited to get out in our yards to make it clean and tidy.

But last years leaves, grasses, pithy stems, hollow stalks and bare ground is now a home for many beneficial insects, native pollinators and other wildlife.

WI has over 500 different species of native bees that are critical for pollination. Some hibernate deep in leaves, stems or in the ground. Other native bees spend the winter as eggs or larvae which hatch in the spring. Similar to native bee, many moths and butterflies spend the winter in Wisconsin as either egg, larvae or adult (depending on species). Some caterpillars make small nests at the base of a tree, and others create chrysalis in leaves, stems or trees and hatch in the spring.

These insects are critical for a healthy ecosystem and are struggling to survive today.

If you want more beneficial insects in your yard and garden, hold off cleaning your yard until temperatures reach a consistent 50-degree day time temperature.

If you feel you'd like to clean up, cut stems/stalks or grasses and set them aside until things warm up a bit.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
May 01, 2023

This is helpful info. "No Mow May" is also a trend gaining acceptance in many cities, which allows other plants in your lawn to grow and bloom. These plants and weeds can then produce essential pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators during the critical period in which they are emerging from hibernation. For another alternative, "Mow Long" and set your cutting height to its maximum for the first mow. This actually benefits the lawn grass, too.

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