Leave the Leaves

Did you know fall is the perfect time to be thinking about your future garden and outdoor living space. Planning ahead gives you time to settle in to your selections and not purchase plants on impulse. Transplanting in the fall allows for optimal root establishment and the joy of an early spring bloom! Having a proper plant list ready when spring sales open you can find the best selections.

It is that time of year when the temperature drops and so do all of the leaves. One of the most important fall garden practices you can adopt is leaving the leaves on the ground.

The trees and shrubs that drop their leaves once a year are called deciduous. Alternatively, plants that keep their leaves all year long are called evergreen.

When the warm season comes to a close the deciduous plants begin to work hard to conserve their energy for the winter. They do this by moving the carbohydrates and sugars from their leaves down into the roots. Other minerals and nutrients are recycles back into the soil when they fall.

The leaves and stems that fall onto the ground can be used as mulch around other plants or left on the lawn to prevent weeds in the spring and feed worms and other micro-organisms. You may want to mulch them into smaller pieces for better absorption and aesthetics. Also be sure not to used leaves from diseased or pest infested plants.

The biomass of the leaves themselves play an important role in the garden. As they are being eaten, decomposed and broken down by natural elements they become smaller and smaller to be used by millions of creatures, yes I said millions of creatures!

10 Reasons to keep the leaves on the ground this fall!

  • Increase Soil Fertility aka fertilizer
  • Natural mulch to insulate the roots of trees and shrubs
  • Increase organic matter
  • Make compost for your veggie gardens
  • Decrease spring and summer weeds
  • Winter habitat for caterpillars and other insects
  • Forage for migratory and winter resident birds to eat the insects
  • Protection from winter rains, reducing runoff and flooding issues
  • Beautiful fall colors 🙂
  • FUN for Jumping in!!!

Harmful effects from removing the leaves

  • Byproducts of mechanical removal - gasoline pollution, auditory and respiratory damage, nerve damage from holding vibrating machinery and using repetitive movements for equipment operators
  • Damaged vegetation by raking over, or heavy blowing
  • Reduction of water retention leading to heavy runoff and flooding
  • Leaching of nutrients after each rain event
  • Removal of larvae and pupae of important insects and pollinators


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