Any gardener knows the struggle of maintaining a beautiful garden during the autumn months, when the leaves start to fall and leaf litter starts to accumulate. It can be very tempting to rake it all away to keep the garden looking immaculate. This article is our attempt to persuade you of the importance of leaf litter in the garden.
Despite common misconceptions, leaving leaves in our gardens is essential. Leaves act not only as a natural weed killer (when decomposing) but they also help to fertilise soil, helping our gardens and trees to flourish.
Fallen leaves provide organic materials above the ground and supply food, shelter and nesting materials to other wildlife that may have found their way into our gardens.
When it comes to our trees, we know that they need certain nutrients to help them remain strong, healthy and to grow, so what better way of having an organic form of feeding them than with your leaves!
The best way to help our trees with leaves is to leave ‘leaf-litter’ (a collection of fallen leaves) underneath them which will proceed to decompose, helping to provide nutrients to the trees through feeding microbes in the soil. You will not only save yourself from buying potentially unnecessary fertiliser for your garden, but you will also be making use of leaves that otherwise may have been going to landfill or being burnt.
If you really cannot stand the sight of leaf litter accumulating, we would advise you to mulch the leaves first, and then rake them up – you can mulch the leaves simply by running your lawnmower over them. You can then spread the mulch around your trees and plants in a more controlled manner (and without really spending any more time than it would take to rake the leaves on a daily basis).
This the best way to help provide soil with nutrients. One reason this is beneficial is that dense layers of leaves can block sunlight and trap excess water against the ground. This way, you can have the best of both worlds: a tidy garden, and healthy, fertilised plants!
It is also imperative to remember to not leave many years’ worth of leaves under your trees as this can begin to have an adverse effect instead of a beneficial one.
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