Is it better to rake leaves or leave them on the ground?
This style of gardening isn’t for everyone. Everything that grows in the garden decomposes in the garden. The result is 3 inches of thick dropped plant material.
Best practices regarding leaf mulch in the garden
When the trees start changing color, everyone starts raking leaves to clean up the “mess” from these trees as part of their “fall to do list” But, in reality, they’re hurting the ecosystems of their garden! Leaves are vital to the wildlife in the garden. Many native insects (including the garden favorite ladybugs) hibernate in the leaves or leave behind their eggs. When those insects emerge or hatch from the leaves, they also provide food for the first birds arriving back north.
Mulching is highly regarded as an essential part of soil insulation, deterring weeds, retaining soil moisture, preventing soil erosion and nourishing the soil. This wisdom comes straight from the forest. Plant materials such as leaves, bark, and seeds drop to the ground in forests and other wild spaces, where they create a carpet of plant materials that decompose to nourish and build up the soil below.
In home gardens, we are taught to remove the plant debris that creates this carpet, and we are then left with bare soil around our plants that dries out quickly and invites weeds to take up residence. Mulching replaces this essential layer in the garden.
The worst thing you can do is send these leaves to the landfill
I know many people shudder at the idea of having leaves cover their garden and lawn. But there’s definitely a way to get the best of both worlds. You can sweep off any leaves from the sidewalk or porches. Push piles of leaves into garden beds where they will decompose best. The result is a garden that is more in tune with the way mother nature intended it. You’re allowing the plants that came from your garden to return to your garden the same way they would if you weren’t there. You’ll have a garden full of nutrients and natural mulch.
Leaf mould consists of partially shredded and chopped leaves and is a highly nutritious organic material. So yes, it’s amazing for your yard! Leaves and chopped-up clippings are excellent for compost since they decompose and break down easily. You don’t need additional greens or browns. Use leaf mulch in the vegetable garden in particular, as it adds plenty of nutrients back to the depleted soil. You can add it anywhere that doesn’t naturally get much mulch.
To mulch your leaves, rake the leaves into a pile. Make sure not to include any with pests, diseases, pesticides, or herbicides. Let the pile compost. After a few weeks, you can chop it up further with a lawn mower or clippers into smaller pieces. Scatter the mulch in the garden, focusing on the base of plants. This adds a layer of protection for the winter. You can also add it to an existing compost bin to help speed up the breakdown of the compost.
Some claim that not raking leaves means you’ll suffocate your lawn. It will get less water, sunlight, and air circulation. But this really isn’t the case! Whether it’s the lawn or the garden, leaves will decompose and actually improve your lawn by providing free fertilizer. It’s the exact same case with grass clippings.