The significance and advantages of preserving leaf litter round vegetation

One of many items of recommendation the gardening world has acquired flawed through the years is about selecting up leaf litter from round vegetation. Whereas it is smart to comb autumn leaves from paths to cease slipping and to rake it off of lawns to keep away from shading injury to the grass, it’s incorrect to take away it from planting areas.

The advice goes: it’s best to take away leaf litter from round vegetation to scale back slug and snails and to keep away from shading the vegetation. Each of those items of recommendation are counterintuitive and I’ll clarify why.

1) Leaf litter is the wild approach

As I clarify frequently in my Wild Manner E-newsletter, if we glance to nature, it’s going to inform us every part we have to learn about rising in gardens. Within the wild, leaves fall and this kinds the premise of most natural matter that powers progress the next yr. The leaves decompose thanks to varied organisms within the ecosystem, which incorporates slugs and snails, as effectively fungi, micro organism and different microorganisms. Individuals usually ask me “what’s the level of slugs?” and the reply is straightforward, certainly one of their vital roles is to interrupt down this leaf litter, recycling it as nutrient wealthy humus that vegetation use for progress sooner or later. The opposite is as meals for helpful animals.

2) Leaf litter is habitat for slug and snail predators

When you really feel you might have an issue with slugs and snails, the very best factor you are able to do is go away the leaf litter as a result of it’s dwelling to their pure predators. Beetles, centipedes, frogs, toads, sluggish worms, hedgehogs, you title it – all of those animals cover and dwell beneath damp, protecting leaf litter for a lot of the yr. Feeding on, you guessed it, slugs, snails and different nibbly bugs. Take away it and also you take away the predators, and off slugs and snails will slide to what’s left, your vegetation.

3) A pure mulch making your life simpler!

Gardening recommendation of the previous tells us to take away leaves in autumn after which mulch round vegetation in spring with compost. Why? Leaves are a pure mulch, that break down and are pulled into the soil by worms and different soil dwelling life. Individuals fear that the leaves could smother smaller vegetation however they often work their approach round vegetation as autumn progresses, as occurs naturally within the wild (proven above). Many perennials will naturally go dormant in winter anyway, and rising via leaf litter is not any totally different to rising again via soil. The truth is, the leaves supply a layer of safety from the winter parts. If in case you have smaller evergreen vegetation you’ll be able to brush the leaves off or, personally, I’d transfer them to a extra acceptable place or substitute them with one thing extra tolerant. Ferns as an example might be evergreen however are additionally extraordinarily shade tolerant, shade loving vegetation like this received’t bat a leaf a couple of skinny layer of leaves in winter.

4) Fallen leaves don’t final lengthy in a wholesome ecosystem

Most fallen leaves will blow round vegetation and start decomposing shortly, particularly with a wholesome ecosystem that features slugs and snails. Above you’ll be able to see how the leaves that fell from a really massive rowan, birch and an amelanchier have nearly all been absorbed into the soil inside a month or so. It’s true that some timber like oak and beech have harder leaves that take for much longer to decompose. Nonetheless, these make incredible habitats for helpful animals like frogs, toads, sluggish worms and hedgehogs. It simply requires bigger vegetation like massive ferns that the leaves will fall round and never on.

5) Fallen leaves are stunning, good for wildlife and scale back upkeep

Look once more at fallen leaves. Take away from paths and lawns however hold them round your vegetation. It’d imply you could alter what you plant barely, however that is all a part of changing into a greater gardener. Creating an exquisite backyard for you, that’s simpler to take care of and good for the planet.

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