Go away the leaves – the brand new, straightforward method to take care of autumn gardens – The Center-Sized Backyard

November nineteenth, 2023
Posted In: Wildlife & eco

Go away the leaves is the brand new gardening mantra.

It instantly appeals to me greater than getting out a leaf blower or rake, bagging up leaves and discovering someplace to retailer them whereas they break down into leaf mould. (By no means thoughts truly placing them in a automotive and taking them to the native dump!)

Raking leaves was essentially the most tedious job of my childhood. My mom ushered us all out for hours of back-breaking tedium.

But at present’s ‘go away the leaves’ marketing campaign on social media means that a lot of this work was pointless. Others recommend, nevertheless, that leaving the leaves might harm your backyard and even your well being.

Having left leaves by myself borders for 15+ years with no ill-effects, I’ve finished some extra analysis to see the place we are able to go away the leaves and the place they’d be higher swept up.

Leave the leaves on borders

That is my central border. I’ve by no means cleared any leaves away. Most of them rot down by the spring, though a number of are blown onto the garden on dry, windy days.

Can you permit the leaves on borders?

You possibly can go away leaves on most borders with none drawback. They are going to break down over the winter and by spring, you’ll hardly discover them.

As they break down, they’ll return vitamin to the soil.

Piles of leaves additionally supply habitats to wildlife. Individuals have identified – accurately – that this consists of slugs and snails. Nevertheless it additionally consists of slug and snail predators, akin to hedgehogs, frogs, toads, slow-worms and floor beetles.

There are solely two potential issues with leaving leaves on borders.

Firstly, some timber have very thick, large leaves that take a very long time to interrupt down. The leaves from my Magnolia grandiflora can cowl smaller crops, akin to Saxifrage ‘London Pleasure’. This could deprive them of sunshine, so I do push them off (once I discover).

Before and after of leaves on a border

The highest photograph is my central border in autumn 2022. The image under it exhibits that the leaves have decomposed round 3 months later. I did see a number of traces of leaf once I went actually shut up, however it wasn’t an issue.

Do leaves blow across the backyard when you go away them?

Many individuals see leaves blowing round a metropolis avenue. They assume that leaves on borders will blow across the backyard in the identical approach. However, largely, they don’t.

I’ve examined this in my very own backyard over many winters. (After I discover leaves on the garden, I can inform the place they’ve come from in line with what sort they’re!)

I’ve by no means recognized leaves blow off borders if the leaves are on the again, proper subsequent to a wall or fence. The wind can’t get behind them to blow them round. I’ve even left fairly a excessive pile of leaves in the back of a border and it has stayed there, step by step breaking down.

Nonetheless, in case your border is in the midst of the backyard, it’s a lot simpler for leaves to blow round the remainder of the backyard. If in case you have a moist autumn, they’ll largely keep the place they fall, however in dry, sunny climate you’ll get some leaves blowing across the garden, paths or terraces. Not all of the leaves will blow round, however some will.

Can leaves be used as mulch?

Sure, leaves make a superb mulch.

There are two faculties of thought. There are those that go away the leaves in borders and even sweep leaves from the garden immediately into borders.

And there are those that advise chopping the leaves up first.

Both is okay (apart from these large thick leaves, which do want chopping up). The chopped-up leaves will decompose extra rapidly and are much less prone to blow round.

Can leaves be added to the backyard compost bin?

Sure. I’ve typically added leaves to the backyard compost bin. They don’t decompose as rapidly as many backyard clippings or uncooked fruit and veg, however that doesn’t need to matter.

Until you’re sieving your backyard compost to plant seeds, then having some partially composted component isn’t an issue. You possibly can unfold compost on the backyard even when it’s not fully damaged down.

Nonetheless, one efficient approach of including leaves to the compost is to mow the leaves on the garden. Then throw the combined bag of garden clippings and chopped up leaves into the compost bin. It’s an ideal combine and can break down rapidly.

Right here’s a very easy information to creating your personal backyard compost.

You may also bag up leaves individually to make leaf mould. It is a splendidly nutritious mulch on your backyard borders, however I’ve discovered that leaves appear to decompose way more slowly once they’re all bagged up collectively.

If you’re going to bag up leaves, make sure that they’re moist and tear air holes within the baggage. They are going to take a minimum of 1-2 years to interrupt down.

Can you permit leaves on lawns?

This query causes a whole lot of arguments. Having checked out a lot of them, I can summarise it.

If in case you have plenty of leaves, which lie in a thick layer in your garden, then it can take them months to interrupt down. In that point, your garden will probably be disadvantaged of daylight. This will likely trigger naked patches, particularly when you have plenty of the thicker, extra leathery leaves.

Nonetheless, when you solely have a scattering of leaves over your garden, then they’ll break down naturally, including vitamin to the garden.

The simplest method to take care of leaves on the garden is to run a mower over them. Use the next setting than you’d in summer time when the grass is rising strongly.

You possibly can both throw the leaves and garden clippings into the compost bin, throw it into the borders as a mulch or go away the chopped up leaves the place they’re on the garden. They’ll break up extra rapidly than complete leaves will.

In the US, the place lots of the garden grasses aren’t native, this debate typically veers off into the ‘lawns are unhealthy’ argument.

It’s necessary to keep in mind that there’s a distinction between sustaining a non-native garden in an space that isn’t appropriate for lawns and having a primarily native garden within the UK, the place lawns expend comparatively few assets and are each sustainable and wildlife-friendly.

You will discover out extra about an easy-care sustainable garden right here.

Will the leaves trigger unhealthy moulds once they rot down?

Nature doesn’t rake up leaves. It permits them to rot down, returning their vitamin to the soil.

Leaves rot down on a forest flooring all yr spherical. Forests and woods don’t odor unhealthy. And folks aren’t often warned towards strolling in them due to ‘unhealthy moulds.’

However when you search whether or not leaves trigger unhealthy moulds (molds) on-line, you can find tons of of warnings, virtually all from the US, on the risks.

Actually moulds, funghi and fallen leaves are an element within the autumn. These can set off allergic reactions, just like these from pollen in summer time. A couple of of those allergic reactions and reactions might be extreme.

However I discover it odd that individuals are way more involved about this in the US than they’re within the UK.

Are our fallen leaves much less prone to trigger allergic reactions? Or do some international locations fear extra about leaves than others?

This will likely even be a quantity situation. In case you’ve acquired one or two timber of various varieties in your backyard, then you definately gained’t have an enormous variety of leaves at anyone time. But when your property is surrounded by tons of of the identical deciduous timber all dropping their leaves without delay, then leaves will take longer to interrupt down. The funghi that assist break them down could also be round longer.

It could even be value noting that nature doesn’t sweep leaves into an enormous pile, so maybe the stability of funghi and moulds could also be totally different if leaves are in piles somewhat than merely left.

And never all ‘moulds’ are unhealthy…

You’re actually extra prone to see funghi in autumn, when leaves are falling, however this doesn’t imply that leaving leaves causes all of them. Or that they’re essentially unhealthy.

The Royal Horticultural Society says that the majority kinds of funghi are superb for gardens, serving to crops to take up vitamins and lifeless matter to decompose.

Their newest Wildlife backyard at RHS Wisley has areas the place funghi have intentionally been planted.

There’s extra from the RHS about adopting a extra relaxed perspective to gardening in gardening for biodiversity.

There are a number of damaging funghi, akin to honey fungus and verticilium wilt. However sweeping up your leaves isn’t prone to make a whole lot of distinction to them, in some way.

However, as with every thing, I believe it’s value taking a person strategy to this. Is there any scientific analysis finished in your space? Have you ever – or your loved ones – personally skilled issues with leaves within the autumn? What’s proper for one individual isn’t essentially proper for an additional, and when you do get well being points in autumn, it’s necessary to deal with them.

Funghi in the RHS Wildlife Garden at RHS Wisley

These funghi had been intentionally launched into the Wildlife Backyard at RHS Wisley.

Are fallen leaves toxic to canine (or different pets)?

As I stated in The way to Pet-Proof Your Backyard, about 25% of any backyard is prone to be poisonous to each people and pets. However most people and pets don’t eat the crops.

Plant poisoning is comparatively uncommon, however it is important to maintain an in depth eye on puppies, kittens and toddlers in a backyard as a basic security measure. You by no means know what they’re going to place of their mouths or what different hurt they might do to themselves.

The PDSA within the US (Individuals’s Dispensary For Sick Animals) says that lifeless leaves are much less prone to trigger issues that inexperienced leaves.

There are a number of crops that are very poisonous, akin to oleander or ricinus. I personally don’t develop both for that motive. However you will notice oleander throughout Europe, with plenty of cats and canine sunning themselves in entrance of the bushes.

I’d recommend asking your native vet if there are crops in your space that appear to trigger issues with canine or cats consuming the leaves.

In case you get a obscure, basic reply, that in all probability means the vet can’t bear in mind particular circumstances (so there in all probability are few or none). In case your vet has handled poisonings on account of pets consuming fallen leaves or particular crops, they’ll say so fairly clearly.

Can you permit leaves on paths?

Don’t go away the leaves on paths or locations the place you stroll. It makes them slippy in wet or icy climate.

However you don’t must take the leaves very far. I simply scoop mine up with leaf scoopers (I at present use these Straeme leaf grabbers) and deposit them within the nearest border (on the again, by the wall!)

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Don't leave leaves on paths and terraces.

Paths and terraces might be slippy if they’re lined in moist or frozen leaves. A buddy of mine says she has additionally slipped whereas strolling on her garden, so that’s one other issue to bear in mind.

Can leaves develop roots?

Leaves can’t regenerate or develop roots. You gained’t discover plenty of tree seedlings popping up since you go away leaves in your borders or garden.

Some other issues?

There’s a fantastic Instagrammer Alexis Nicole who says in her  video: ‘go away the leaves. They gained’t break into your home and steal all of your wine.’

How refreshing to seek out one thing we are able to all agree on. I believe we are able to safely say that’s true for wherever you reside.

The ‘go away the leaves’ marketing campaign is all a part of gardening to assist wildlife. It additionally saves time, effort (and even somewhat cash) for the gardener, so this one is a ‘win/win!’

However, as with every thing, there’s no ‘one dimension suits all’ recommendation in gardening. In case you’re reluctant that this can be just right for you, maybe strive leaving leaves on one border and see what occurs.

Let me understand how you discover it.

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