For whatever reason, we just can’t seem to keep ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the growing season. These days I use a mower to coarsely shred my leaves, which I then use as winter mulch in the vegetable garden. A leaf blower helps you quickly corral fallen leaves. Mulch Them Back into Your Lawn or Garden. Maybe you have also noticed a decline in bees and other beneficial insects and songbirds as well. Be sure to remove leaves regularly from ponds (above) and from silver-leaved plants (below left); a lawnmower … Fall Leaves Can Harm Your Garden. Marilyn S. Smith, 93, wife of the late Andrew Smith, formerly of Sharon Road, South Hamilton, died December 25, 2020 at Landmark at Ocean View Assisted Living in Beverly following her extended illness. Your gardens do not look immaculate. Then rake it, but take the leaves, and, if you can put them in a corner somewhere, that’s great.” If you do pile your leaves inside flower beds during garden cleanup, be sure to leave a little space around the crowns of any delicate perennials to avoid smothering them. In places where you want to grow turf grass, it is essential to rake, mow or mulch the leaves in fall. L eaving the leaves intact will smother your lawn and encourage fungal diseases. Below are some tips on how to minimize the time you spend raking and maximize the benefit to wildlife and the greater environment that fallen leaves offer. Pile the leaves in a spot where they’re out of the way and won’t blow away. Simply put, when we treat leaves and old plant debris like trash, we are tossing out the beautiful moths, butterflies, pollinators, and insects that we’ll surely miss and worked so hard to attract. Although paid post-employment non-competes are sometimes also referred to as garden leave, that usage is inaccurate. Indeed, the mixture of chopped leaves and end-of-the-season grass clippings I can collect with my mower's bagging attachment is the best mulch I … Gardening leave, or garden leave, is a term most commonly used in the financial industry in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. Leaves that have been chopped (and I am assuming this is what your mower did) can add motility but not necessarily additional fertility to garden soil. Rake onto a large sheet or tarp, then drag to a corner of your yard to give pollinators some winter cover. Shredded leaves improve the structure of garden soil by taking up space between dense particles, such as those found in heavy clay soil. Besides providing the right native plants and protecting your garden by not using pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, one of the most valuable things you can do to support pollinators, butterflies, beneficial insects, and small vertebrates is to provide winter cover in the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. To mimic the natural ecosystem, a layer of leaves needs to be at least two inches thick. “Composting to Kill Weed Seeds.” Texas A&M University. Next spring they will support the chipmunks, turtles, birds, and amphibians that rely on these insects for food. Better still would be to reduce your overall lawn footprint, replacing it instead with gardens of native plantings that can be future repositories for fall leaves and habitat that support insects and wildlife. Leaves can be a great additive to a home compost pile, and by keeping a pile of it next to the compost, leaves can be used to cover layers of kitchen food waste throughout the winter. Mulch Them Back into Your Lawn or Garden.” Michigan State University. Derek Markham is a green living expert who started writing for Treehugger in 2012. Bees, moths, butterflies, snails, spiders, and dozens of arthropods and pollinators overwinter in dead plant material for protection from cold weather and predators. Fall leaves are a great resource of nutrients for the garden but if you use them incorrectly, they can rob your soil of nitrogen and make it difficult for plants to grow. Don’t carry all that hard work out to the curb or landfill. And far be it from me to encourage you to use lawn equipment in a way that it's not intended, but I've heard that you can put leaves into a large trash can and then use your weed-eater in the can to slash the leaves into tiny bits for use as mulch. The idea is to leave the leaves and other garden vegetative matter for all the benefits mentioned above. Leave Leaves for Wildlife. According to National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski, “Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Other animals that hibernate in or under leaves include spiders, snails, salamanders, frogs, worms, beetles, millipedes, and mites. As a homeowner or gardener, you might have asked yourself the question, “What can I do to support our declining local wildlife populations?”. Raking leaves from your flower beds is a common fall chore, but you may wish to leave them to act as mulch over the winter months. Leaves are a great source of "brown," high-carbon material for the compost. So what is the environmental case for leaving your gardens untouched in the fall? Leave leaves on the ground – they have a lot of benefit to wildlife and your garden. Leaves will decompose naturally; as they do, they provide valuable organic matter and build up healthy soil. However, just leaving the leaves to lay where they fall in the autumn (see what I did there?) In woodland plantings (below), shade beds or at the backs of borders, the easiest method is to let any fallen leaves decompose directly onto the bed. Instead of bagging your leaves for the curb, rake them into the garden for decomposition, write Mark and Ben Cullen I leave all leaves in my shade garden and it has done nothing but improve the soil and stop weeds. They feed not only earthworms but the many forms of micro-organisms that live in the soil. While paid Instead, collect your leaves and create a leaf pile in the corner of your yard, where you can allow them to break down naturally. However, if you're cultivating a 'tidier' look to your lawn, and don't want those pesky dried leaves getting in the way, they can be raked into garden beds, flower beds, or as a mulch around trees, either as-is or by using a bagger on your mower to collect them. Because of last year’s leaves, I now have my mulch, water retention, weed suppression, and compost all set in my gardens for the upcoming growing season! Leaves aren’t just about being useful to us as humans. This is a good thing depending upon your soil type: humus to make the soil drain better, be a bit looser rather than compacted is good. Leaves can be a great additive to a home compost pile, and by keeping a pile of it next to the compost, leaves can be used to cover layers of kitchen food waste throughout the winter. Fallen leaves can also be used to reclaim sections of the yard that are marginal, just by building a huge leaf pile there and letting it sit all winter. This is used when an employee … The bottom line: You have provided your insects with flowers, bushes, and trees for food, fuel, shelter, and a place to nest. Well, we're older and hopefully wiser now, so the idea of removing this important annual input to our local soil biology, and sending it elsewhere, likely to the landfill to be buried instead, doesn't make nearly as much sense now as it might have back before we knew better. It is comparable to the concept of paid leave of absence at the request of the employer. • Rake leaves off the lawn to use as mulch in garden beds. This is especially true in a vegetable garden where you … Fallen leaves have the same weed suppression and moisture retention properties of shredded wood mulch – and they are free! High and middle school Green Team members come up with a way to distribute perishable food to those in need. Personally, it took me a couple of years to wean myself from this archaic and harmful practice of annual fall cleanup. When it comes to lawns, if you must keep them clear of leaves in the fall and winter, try opting for raking or using a leaf vacuum to capture whole leaves, rather than shredding them with a mower. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and at the same time fertilizes the soil as it breaks down. In all but the warmest climates, these insects, no matter in what stage they hibernate, use leaf litter for winter cover. Leave any stems that have attractive seedheads for birds to enjoy. Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalis as dried leaves, blending in with the real leaves. The act of cleaning the garden in the fall may be an annual habit, a matter of social and cultural conditioning, or a holdover of outdated gardening practices from yesteryear. These are but a few of countless examples. You can also contact the coordinators of the local leaf drop-off and ask about getting bags of leaves for free from the event, which I've done before, and which can be an effective and simple ingredient for enriching your soil. When you’re preparing your garden beds for a new season, don’t rip your plants out of the ground, roots and all.If you do, you’ll be robbing your soil microbes of a good meal and degrading your long-term soil fertility. Don’t leave fallen leaves in sodden layers on the lawn. If you grew up in a neighborhood with lots of trees, chances are you had to put in plenty of hours each fall raking them all together, bagging them up, and then sending them off somewhere, most likely to the landfill. Or, add those shredded leaves to your compost bin. For many gardeners, not cleaning or tidying their gardens in the fall is a hard pill to swallow. Over the winter, add a green layer of vegetable scraps to heat things up and speed decomposition (much like a compost pile). In the spring, just mix them in with your soil. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! “By spring, almost all of the chopped leaves will be completely decomposed,” Maynard says. Make Rich Leaf Mold Instead. Let leaves lie where they land on the garden site, and add to the abundance by dumping more leaves on your future flowerbed. “Don’t Sweep Your Leaves to the Curb! What does all of this information mean for your garden? Leave the leaves: The case for not raking your garden this fall, Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window), Tales from the scanner: Eggs, spit, diaper, Group to act as matchmaker between students and businesses, High school students introduce Hello, Neighbor fridges, Approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe to take, Column: Be nice to siblings – they might write your obituary, Lacroix to serve on North Shore Association of Realtors committees, North Shore property sales, Dec. 13-19, 2020. A rubber rake is the very best tool for gathering leaves from lawns, paths and paving, but a spring-tined lawn rake or even an ordinary garden rake can be used. Leaf mold is simply wet leaves that have decomposed into a rich, black, soil-like substance that makes a perfect mulch for plants. What's the Most Environmentally Sound Way to Care for My Lawn? And those dried hollow stalks from your raspberries, elderberries, Joe Pye weed, hydrangea, and summer flowers are also a refuge for eggs of many native bee species, butterflies, moths, and other beneficial insects. But this shedding of foliage is more important to our yard’s ecosystem than many of us may believe. You can rake whole leaves into your vegetable garden and leave them there to compost over the season. The main argument for … Studies have shown that it can be extremely beneficial to the health of your lawn to mulch the leaves right into it. Evergreen Vs. Deciduous We can’t just have evergreens. If you still decide you need to clean up the garden and remove the leaves in the spring, make sure you wait until late in the spring season, around mid-May, until hibernating insects have had a chance to emerge so as not to destroy all the life you’ve so worked to protect! Remove weeds, then spread compost or well rotted manure over the soil to insulate plant roots – the worms will work it in over winter. a good point Susan. 5 Landscape Ideas for People Who Aren't Good With Plants, 17 Fall Garden Ideas, Projects, and Tips to Extend Your Harvest, How Nitrogen-Fixing Plants Can Perk Up Your Garden, 6 Homemade Herbicides: Kill the Weeds Without Killing the Earth, 7 No-Cost Ways to Grow More Food From Your Garden, Don’t Sweep Your Leaves to the Curb! Such efforts will keep insects and other species safe and allow you to benefit from the rich garden gift that falls from the trees above. Great spangled fritillary, luna moths, Baltimore checkerspot butterflies, and woolly bear caterpillars tuck themselves into a pile of leaves for protection from cold weather and predators. And while it's usually recommended to use a mulching mower, or a mulching attachment, to convert the larger leaves into smaller-sized particles, virtually any mower can do the job, and it's merely a matter of mowing over the leaf-filled yard a few times during the season.. In fact, the vast majority of butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape in different stages either as eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, or adults. While monarch migration is a well-known phenomenon, it’s not the norm when it comes to butterflies. “Fall Leaves: To Leave or Not to Leave.” Clemson University. This is the part that at first is hard to get used to. Fallen leaves have the same weed suppression and moisture retention properties of shredded wood mulch—and they’re free! Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Spread the chopped leaf mulch over your garden soil, then incorporate it with a tiller or spade. However, once decided, I’ve never regretted the choice. Over this past growing season, many of you have observed a drastic decline not only in monarchs but in all butterfly species. A trick I use in the spring is to brush the remaining leaves under and around my newly emerging plants and perennials. The only plants and plant materials I now remove from the garden in the fall are diseased. From green to rich reds to golden yellow, the gradual poetic-like fall of leaves to the ground and calming rustling sound can be a welcome change in the garden during autumn.. At the end of summer, queen bumblebees burrow only an inch or two into the earth to hibernate for winter. As a volunteer, she oversees and maintains the nature gardens at the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest Audubon property in Massachusetts. An extra thick layer of leaves is welcome protection from the elements. 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