Falling leaves in autumn shouldn’t be seen as a problem but an opportunity. In the forest they are nature’s way of organically fertilising the forest floor and preventing weeds from growing, however in the garden they can be considered a gardener’s nuisance.
Autumn leaves must be raked and cleared away as soon as is possible. Leaving leaves for long periods on your lawn can cause damage. Leaves are easier to rake, vacuum or blow, if they are dry. Collected leaves can be turned into leaf mould or added to your compost bin.
All leaves are suitable for adding to your leaf mould pile, with the exception of those which have become diseased. Additionally conifer and hedge cuttings should be added to your compost pile as they are slow to decay. It is best to destroy these by burning to avoid reintroducing them to your garden next year. Either store leaves to rot in a wire or wooden pen, or if you are short of space, use plastic sacks, with a few puncture holes added. Wherever you store your leaves, make sure the pile keeps wet to aid the rotting process.
Small amounts of leaves can be added to your compost pile. Ensure you first shred the leaves and remove any lumps.
The benefits of recycling your leaves are varied. Leaf mould can be used as mulch around herbaceous plants, shrubs, trees and vegetables. It can be dug into the soil to improve the conditions for sowing and planting. It can also be used to cover bare soil as it helps prevent the growth of weeds.
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