Fallen leaves as border "mulch"?
We've got heaps and heaps of leaves that have fallen due to the trees in the copse the other side of our garden, which I'm quite happy about as I plan to start making leaf mould. However, there are a LOT of leaves...!
Is there any benefit to me piling them up on the borders as well, in place of a more typical mulch? I kind of figured that it would be both insulating and would eventually rot down, perhaps when I put on a spring mulch next year.
Or will it do nothing but smother what is in the borders already (mostly perennials, some shrubs)?
It also depends on they type of leaves.
I have an big acer in the front garden. All the leaves have now dropped beneath it and they are 2" to 6" thick on the ground. By spring most will have largely broken down as they are quite delicate leaves.
My neighbour has a big oak in their front garden - by spring the fallen leaves look just as they did when they fell as they leaves are quite thick and waxy.
I do use the oak leaves for leafmould, but they take several years to break down.
Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
I have leaves in various parts of the garden, blown in from the neighbouring maple. They won't do any harm where they are - at the foot of the hedge, and a border with mainly shrubs, and a few tough plants. If I had a bed of airy fairy perennials and bulbs, or something like the cyclamen mentioned, and it was many inches thick, that would be different.
I've just collected a load of oak leaves from a neighbour, and I shredded some with the mower. They're now round the base of some shrubs.
I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
I have one large, slightly wild, woodlandey border where I leave a thick (4") carpet of ash and other soft leaves to rot down naturally every year. I've done that for several years without any problems. However, there are only tough trees and shrubs and tough perennials growing in that border. There are quite a few cyclamen, muscari and tete-a-tete bulbs and the leaves don't seem to cause any problems for them - I'd probably do more harm trying to rake the leaves off. I have never had a problem with slugs or snails in that border (famous last words!!) but I do collect leaves from other borders where slugs enjoy dining out.
Shrubs will be fine with leaves underneath them and perennials which die right back in winter (geraniums, hostas etc) should also be ok (they are in my garden anyway). Alpines and other small evergreen perennials would struggle if they were covered in leaves for a prolonged period.