Here at Sherborne Turf, we like to keep our ear to the ground (albeit the slightly muddy, leaf-covered ground at the moment) and there is a lot of discussion about leaf clearance at this time of year with many left wondering: to rake or not to rake?
There have been many arguments against raking or removing leaves on the basis that leaves are naturally biodegradable and beneficial. This is, of course, very true. Some of the benefits include:
- As they break down, leaves form a fantastic (and importantly, free) mulch that will add goodness to the soil
- This mulch forms a protective barrier against weeds and creates an insulating layer that keeps the ground warm through the winter.
- They provide food and shelter for invertebrates, a vital habitat for hibernating creatures such as hedgehogs, as well as nesting materials and hiding places for other animals.
Though the benefits are fantastic, and not to be ignored, what has been overlooked in some online discussions is where the leaves happen to fall and the impact this can have. There will be many areas of your garden that would always benefit from leaf fall, especially borders, around trees, and planted areas with exposed ground. It should be noted, however, that there are areas that may not benefit.
These areas include:
- Patios and pathways: they may become slippery and pose a health and safety risk (as the leaves have no soil in which to break down and decompose).
- Gutters and drainpipes: may also become blocked and cause flooding.
- Areas of lawn and perennials: a thick covering of leaves will suppress growth and lead to disease. Many of the problems we see in lawns, such as bare patches, diseases (such as red thread), and poor growth are caused by leaf coverage in the autumn.
What we would recommend:
- The best course of action concerning leaf fall and your garden is to first consider where would benefit the most from the lovely free mulch, and where would not.
- If you have an area of lawn that you would like to keep as a usable lawn, then either rake, or use a blower, to move the leaves to an area of your garden that would be more suitable.
- Spread the leaves around trees, across borders and piled up in any parts of the garden where you’d like to create a wildlife area, perhaps alongside your bug hotel.
- Remember to also make sure to clear leaves from gutters, drains and pathways and add them to your chosen areas.
- There should be no need to bag up and throw away the leaves as you can always make better use of them than the rubbish tip!
- If you have excess leaf fall and are not sure what to do – why not take a tip from Monty Don and create a leaf compost bin? You can easily do this with an old dumpy bag or any other container you have. Make sure the leaves are cut up or broken down (i.e., with a lawn mower) and kept damp to ensure the fungi can break down the material more quickly. This way the leaf mulch will continue to break down over the winter, leaving you with a fantastic homemade compost in the spring and summer.
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Remember we are always here to help with your lawn and garden. Simply give us a call on 01935 850388, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us online.