Leaves: When to Let Them Lie

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If you garden anywhere near deciduous trees, their leaves likely figure into your fall yard and garden cleanup. You may already know that you can repurpose these leaves as mulch for your garden and lawn. But what to do about leaves that fall on top of shrubs and perennials; do they need to be removed?

rake leaves

According to Rick Darke and Doug Tallamy, writing in The Living Landscape, fallen leaves do not need to be cleared off of most shrubs and perennials in the fall. Darke points out that this is how small trees, shrubs and sturdy perennials grow in wild spaces—the leaves simply fall where they fall, and nature takes its course, which usually results in the debris reaching the ground layer by wind or precipitation, where it then breaks down and feeds the soil. In the garden, letting leaves lie as they will works especially well with thin or small leaves, such as birch, while heavy, waxy leaves like oak may be better shredded and/or composted.

For more tips on leaf patrol and other fall garden tasks, be sure to read "Autumn Au Revoir" in the Fall 2014 issue of Great Gardens, our free online magazine.
Get a high-quality tool that stands up to leaves, lawn clippings and other debris with Clarington Forge's Springbok Lawn Rake.

The Wizard Rubber Rake has close-spaced rubber tines that won't damage delicate surfaces, perennials or groundcovers.

Take an online class that will help you make the most of your gardening time this fall and winter: Fall Gardening TIps & Spring Planning.