Fallen Leaves – for Wildlife & Your Garden
There are always debates of what to do with the fallen leaves. Fallen leaves create a valuable habitat for overwintering animals like hedgehogs, however, it is best to remove them off the lawn, flower beds where there are more slug prone plants, evergreen plants, and out of ponds.
There are various methods of removing leaves in your garden:
Rake – Spring-tined in metal or plastic. Raking leaves into piles and adding to you compost or in bags to create leaf mould.
Lawn Mower – You can use your lawn mower to either collect the leaves into the collection hood, this will shred the leaves aiding the decomposition and can be added easily to the compost heap or your green bin. You can also leave the hood off to shred the leaves and place them directly back onto the grass – this is a good method for areas of rough grass or in orchards. Shredded leaves can then be blown or raked onto the flower beds and used as a mulch.
Leaf Blowers & Vacs – Leaf blowers can be used to push the leaves into a pile for collection or blown onto your flower borders. If you add the leaves to you borders you should be careful to not add them on top any plants which are more susceptible to slug damage. Leaf Vacs will suck up the leaves and shred them and add them to a collection bag. These work best when the leaves are dry and lighter. It does save time as you are collecting at the same time and can simply add to the compost in one go or again into bags for leaf mould. Many leaf vacs have a blower option as well. We sell both corded and battery powered vacs.
Check for hedgehogs before using mowers and blowers – particularly under hedges, where hedgehogs might be having a rest during the day. Also check the compost heap before working it.
Leaving Leaves for Wildlife…
Leaving areas of your garden wild, and leaving piles of leaves, logs or compost, can make an attractive nest, as well as a home for the invertebrates that hedgehogs like to eat. If you are going to leave some leaves in the garden for the wildlife, a nice, neat pile in a quiet corner will give them the hiding place they need. Attracting hedgehogs to your garden is also great for natural pest control as hedgehogs love eating slugs and snails!
How to Create Leaf Mould
Deciduous leaves are best for leaf mould. If they are thicker or larger leaves like Sycamore, Walnut or Horse Chestnut, they are best shredded before added to the collection. Evergreen plants are best added to the compost heap.
Once you have collected the leaves you simply need to place them into a bin liner and pierce holes in the bag with a knife or a garden fork. If the leaves are dry when they are collected, it is worth moistening them before tying the bag up. The bags need to be placed somewhere out of sight in the garden as they can take up to two years to rot down.
Good quality leaf mould, which has rotted down well, can be used as seed sowing compost or as potting compost if mixed with some compost and sharp sand. If you cannot wait two years less rotted leaf mould can be used as a mulch or soil improver in the garden.
By Ginette Oldfield – Plant Advisory Team