It’s a leafy time in the garden and there are mixed opinions about clearing up fallen leaves. I think that it is important to remove leaves from paths, steps and patios, as they will become slippery and hazardous as they start to rot.
Lawns are best kept free of thick leafy carpets too, as they will cause the grass beneath them to weaken and die back, leaving bald patches in the spring. But I am all in favour of leaving leafy layers in flowerbeds and borders where they will act as a natural mulch whilst still ensuring that you are providing the preferred habits for over-wintering wildlife.
It’s all about finding the sweet spot between being safe in the garden, keeping it all tidy enough to keep you happy whilst also considering the insects and wildlife.
Leaves should also be kept out of fish ponds if possible as they will rot and release gases that can be harmful to fish. A lot of rotten leaves in the bottom of ponds will also encourage duckweed which can be difficult to eradicate once it becomes established.
Ideally use collected fallen leaves to create a lovely nutritious leaf mold which can be put back onto beds and borders once it has rotted down.
I have a lovely client who is diligent about reusing and recycling everything within her garden, including autumn leaves, weeds and prunings. Her compost heap is the heart of the garden. It is a lovely concept and when carefully managed, works beautifully yielding copious amounts of ‘black gold’.
Composting is a real art in itself and a far cry from just throwing ‘everything green’ in a heap and expecting it to organically transform into friable compost to be returned to the garden. It will need time, care and knowledge but is wonderfully rewarding and I highly recommend you have a go, even if only on a small scale.
You can even take a workshop in creating compost, and among my favourites are at www.nantybedd.com and The Kitchen Garden at Llangorse (email [email protected]) both of which are run by the nicest of people in the most beautiful settings.
During a tea break in work, I had a little play about with some fallen leaves and created these little leaf animals.
You’ll need a still day with no wind, or take your leaves indoors, and have a go.
As the rains have returned and the rivers and reservoirs are refilling, so are all the containers I put under my outdoor pots to retain water during the summer. These are best removed now and if possible put the pots and containers up on little ‘feet’ to avoid them becoming waterlogged through the winter.
As winds are also picking up, try to take down any hanging baskets that aren’t being used for winter decoration and check structures like free standing trelliswork and damaged or unstable fence panels. It is so much easier to just replace one or two panels (or chock them up), as if the wind does ‘win’, it will often take down more than just the damaged one – a bit like Dominoes (the game, not the pizza chain).