As autumn paints our landscapes with vibrant hues of reds browns, oranges, and yellows, many of us engage in the annual ritual of blowing, raking and bagging fallen leaves! However, what if we thought this through and recognised that actually leaving those leaves in your garden could be more beneficial for your ecosystem, soil, and even your overall gardening experience?.
Of course we could all make leaf mould which is a fantastic free compost but if you haven’t got the time or inclination for this why not leave the leaves in your garden and benefit from them composting naturally and free yourself from the work and the consequences of bagging leaves for landfill.
Natural Composting: Fallen leaves are a valuable source of organic matter that can be converted into nutrient-rich compost. When left on the ground, these leaves break down over time, releasing essential nutrients like carbon and nitrogen into the soil. This natural decomposition process enriches the earth, promoting healthier plant growth.
Soil Enrichment: Leaves serve as a protective mulch layer, shielding the soil from extreme temperature fluctuations and preventing moisture loss. As leaves decompose, they enhance soil structure, making it more porous and better at retaining moisture. This, in turn, reduces the need for watering - and supports plant health.
Boosting Worm Populations: Love this one. Earthworms really are the unsung heroes of healthy soil (after all Charles Darwin spent 60 years studying them for this!). They aerate the soil, allowing roots to access oxygen and nutrients more easily. Leaves provide earthworms with a vital food source. By leaving leaves in your garden, you encourage a thriving worm population that further improves soil quality.
Low Maintenance: Leaf blowing, raking, bagging, and disposing of leaves can be a noisy, labour-intensive and time-consuming task. By embracing the “leave the leaves” approach, you can significantly reduce your workload during the autumn months and enjoy a more relaxed gardening experience – phew!
Wildlife Habitat: Fallen leaves create a welcoming habitat for a variety of wildlife, including insects, amphibians, and small mammals. Many creatures rely on leaf litter for shelter and food, so by leaving leaves in your garden, you contribute to a healthier and more diverse ecosystem.
Of course not all leaves are created equal when it comes to composting and mulching. Some leaves decompose faster and others make a great mulch. Here’s our top eight…
- Oak Leaves: Oak leaves are rich in lignin and break down slowly, making them ideal for creating long-lasting leaf mould and enriching compost.
- Beech Leaves: Beech leaves break down at a moderate pace and are suitable for both leaf mould and compost.
- Hornbeam Leaves: Hornbeam leaves decompose slowly, making them valuable for creating leaf mould that can be used as mulch.
- Sweet Chestnut Leaves: Sweet chestnut leaves are durable and make long-lasting leaf mould and compost.
- Silver Birch Leaves: Silver birch leaves break down rapidly, making them a convenient option for leaf mould and compost.
- Sycamore Leaves: Sycamore leaves decompose quickly and can be used for leaf mould and compost production.
- Hazel Leaves: Hazel leaves break down at a moderate pace and are suitable for creating leaf mould that can later be used as mulch.
- Horse Chestnut Leaves: Horse chestnut leaves are relatively easy to compost and can also be used for leaf mould production.
We realise that leaving leaves in your garden is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to pathways.
They can be a real slip hazard but clearing paths doesn’t mean you have to waste your leaf resource – move them to your raised beds for best effect and consider adding a thin layer of homemade compost or mulch on top of the leaves, to prevent them blowing back on windy days.
Bagging up garden leaves and sending them to landfill may seem like a straightforward solution to tidying up your outdoor space, but it comes with with knock on environmental effects.
From transportation emissions to the wasted potential of this natural resource, the drawbacks are clear. Instead, consider leaving leaves in your garden to compost naturally, enrich your soil, and support local wildlife.
By doing so, you not only reduce your environmental footprint but also nurture a healthier and more sustainable garden. It’s time to rethink the traditional approach and embrace the benefits of a leaf-covered landscape.
If we’ve inspired you to look at leaves a little differently they are the very best source of carbon to balance out all your green waste in your garden composter. This makes it the perfect time to mix in leaves in your TUMBLER,
or your GREEN JOHANNA
or your SUBPOD
– Simply layer the leaves and then mix them up with our
In short LOVE your LEAVES and leave the leaves – they’re a free garden resource to help your soil.
PS: Download our free guide to making your own Leafmould by signing up to our Wiggly Newsletter Here
More Composting Guides and Articles on our new site http://startcomposting.co.uk/
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Read more about the Leave the Leaves movement in this Associated Press article: https://apnews.com/article/leave-leaves-gardening-fall-cleanup-7e007754b7a579347bf6bedcfed4ba1e
#LeafMould #GardenComposting #SustainableGardening #NaturalMulch #GardenEcosystem #LeafLitterWildlife #SoilEnrichment #LeaveTheLeaves #GreenGardening