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Clearing up leaves

Recently had my garden planted up by a professional. I am very much an amateur but trying to do my research and keep all my new plants happy!

I have a range of mostly hardy perennials under a tree. All surrounded by bark. They are constantly getting covered in leaves. I spend many an hour trying to pick them up, never very successfully. I think they'll rot down, go mouldy, and make my plants sick. Or... will they rot down, provide extra nutrients and are great? Can't find clear guidance online as it's all about making things look tidy. I'm more interested in keeping everything alive...

i could certainly do without the back breaking work of picking up thousands of very prickly leaves...

Thank you in advance!

Last edited: 03 September 2017 15:38:20



  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,129

    Hello helenrh

     Depending on the type of leaves you've got , I would be inclined to leave (excuse the punimage) them , just making sure your perennials aren't covered too much . My attitude to gardening is to let nature play a role ; the myriad tiny creatures in the soil all help to recycle old leaves into compost .

    You state the leaves are very prickly ; holly by any chance ? If so , these take longer , but even they face the ultimate fate :- decomposition , as will your bark chippings .

    PS Have no concerns regarding rotting leaves affecting your plants ; they will be fine and undoubtedly benefit from the additional organic material .

  • You're a star. Yes it's Holly, huge tree recently cut back, so it will be worse next year! I'll make sure they can all breathe but stop obsessing.

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,129

    Glad to have helped your 'peace of mind ' Helen .

    Too much emphasis on tidiness in garden mags etc ; what's wrong with a few weeds and leaves in the garden anyway ? There's certainly plenty in mine image and everything is thriving .

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    I'd do the same - it really isn't necessary to remove them all, but as Paul says, because the perennials are dormant over winter, just make sure the area round them is relatively clear so that their growth isn't obstructed in spring. 

    I'd be more concerned that they have enough water and nutrition, bearing in mind the location under a mature holly. That will take while to get big again, but the ground there could be quite dry and impoverished.

    As they're recently planted, make sure your plants are well watered until autumn is well underway, and keep an eye on them during hot, dry spells, especially during summer. They'll benefit from a slow release feed in spring too, and just check they're not struggling for moisture at that point, when the new season gets under way. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,129

    A good point from Fairygirl ; I use a slow-release fertiliser by Westland , called Grow-Sure .

    This contains all the elements needed for good growth ; one application lasting up to six-months .

    Good luck image !

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    I'm wondering - just how much planting is in there, and how well prepped was the planting area, Helen?

    I'd hate to see plants not thriving - they're expensive, especially when you've forked out (the puns are getting worse image) to get someone to put them in. 

    Last edited: 03 September 2017 18:20:36

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,129

    Any chance of some pictures ?

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,743

    Holly, like many evergreens tends to shed the older leaves during summer months. This often causes folk to think they're poorly. 

    Yeah, let's have a look. image

  • image

    Here's the corner I'm talking about... that makes sense that Holly drops more in the summer - thought I was going mad as I thought it would be worse in Autumn!

  • image

    Here's the huge holly tree. It's been cut back where it overhung my garden but is still huge.

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