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Leaves fallen in woodland bed

i call it “woodland” bed which is a bit grandiose ... it’s actually a large north-facing border where the soil itself rarely gets sun but the foliage of the trees and shrubs do.  For 8-9 years I didn’t really tend it and all the leaf fall just rotted down naturally there and the soil is noticeably richer than the bone dry rock hard clay on the south facing border.  

Now I have tidied and replanted there, I can get in / see the soil and I’m wondering about whether to leave fallen leaves in there and let them rot down, or whether to clear them all out?   What would you do?


  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    As usual, it depends. As you say, the fallen leaves rot down and enrich the soil, just as nature intended. There are several reasons for removing them: you may like your garden very neat and tidy; there may be seedlings that could be smothered by the leaves; you may want to use them to enrich other areas or, like me, you may have enormous numbers of slugs which hide, feed and breed in the leaf litter. I collect up the leaves, put them in a leaf composter where they rot and THEN they go on the borders. So it all comes down to what works for you.
  • Thanks @Posy we used to get a tonne of slugs but one year I left a few beer traps and caught what seemed like hundreds of them and we’ve never had so many since.  So I might leave the leaves, I like that natural look.  Thanks!

  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    You are welcome.
  • We have a Wilderness bed under the trees. I leave the fallen leaves ... just clearing gaps around anything a bit young that might get swamped. Seems to work here and the leaves have all disappeared by the time the snowdrops and native daffs appear  :)

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  •  It takes ages to get good soil and leaf litter is part of the process. Keep the cycle going as it protects the soil from erosion, becoming water-logged, it provides shelter for critters which in turn brings birds to forage and the worms will thank you. They do also protect some plants from the worst of winter.

    I have just moved the last of the oak tree leaves off the lawn and onto the beds and in the hedges. I have clay soil so I need to do this without fail each year. All the excess leaves I bag up and make leaf mould.
  • cornellycornelly Posts: 970
    We have snowdrops, daffodils, bluebells, cyclamen etc  in our what we call the secret garden under the trees, where we leave the leaves, it will be a sight in the next few months, it is where I took the photo the other day of the snowdrops.
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