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Clear leaf litter old twigs and garden debris?

Hi, I'm always thinking the garden could do with tidying,  ie should I clear ALL the twigs leaves etc from the beds? I clear the main leaf drops in autumn as we have a few trees but I'm debating going bed by bed and removing all litter so it's really clear. I'm happy to leave it over winter for the animals and bugs, but to get a really tidy garden should I attempt this? ❤ Thanks! #newbiegardener

Posts

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 31,592
    I'd leave them be, so long as they're not covering the crowns of slightly delicate herbaceous plants
    Devon.
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,857
    I'm currently clearing away leaves and twigs so that I can mulch. Amazing how many snails there are hiding away, ready to eat my perennials as they come through.  As I clear, I am forking out perennial weeds to give a good start, then I will fertilise and mulch.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,077
    I usually don't bother picking up leaves, twigs etc unless there's masses of it and even then I don't try to pick up every last bit. If I'm mulching, the mulch goes on top, no problem.
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,202
    I pick up as many leaves as I can because they make a perfect home for slugs. At the moment the rooks are finishing off their nests. They sit in the trees breaking off twigs but they reject about 90% and drop them. There's no point trying to pick them up until the building work is done.
  • FireFire LondonPosts: 13,941
    Hi, I'm always thinking the garden could do with tidying,  ie should I clear ALL the twigs leaves etc from the beds? I clear the main leaf drops in autumn as we have a few trees but I'm debating going bed by bed and removing all litter so it's really clear. I'm happy to leave it over winter for the animals and bugs, but to get a really tidy garden should I attempt this?
    I think it depends what you are growing in the beds and if they are suffering any damage. It sounds like you are pretty happy with your garden. There is no virtue in tidying per se. Leaving twigs and leaves will indeed be helping support wildlife at any time of year. If not having a tidy garden bugs you personally then there are options like moving debris to the side of the garden - in twig and leaf piles, under hedges, to corners etc. If you are happy with what you have where it is, then leave it. It's your garden and you can do what you like.

    If you are plagued by huge amounts or snails or slug eating what you grow, then, no leaving debris around will probably not be helping matters. If you are not noticing any problems, then I would leave everything where it lies.

  • borgadrborgadr KentPosts: 281
    I pick them all up so I can see what's going on down there - any weeds pushing through, any perennials starting to sprout. And I like the way it looks with the debris cleared.

    They all get reused though and serve some purpose - leaves onto the pile for leaf mold, twigs for next winter's kindling, bigger sticks get shredded for compost, and anything else goes on the compost heap.
  • Thank you all! I might do a small clear as I've noticed a few slugs about ..but I like my natural looking beds so won't go too crazy xxx
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,121
    I mulch over anything small. I only lift bigger twigs/branches to use in the compost or for putting in corners for insects etc. Small bits of leaf etc get left.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Butterfly66Butterfly66 BirminghamPosts: 736
    I usually have a tidy up during the winter and a final one about now, not everything but certainly any old growth. This gardening year for most of the garden, I haven’t tidied and am intending to only clear anything that’s interfering with new growth or our view of it (fir example, I did tidy leaves from some parts of the beds so we could properly see our snowdrops and cyclamen). All the rest is been left to break down where it is. Anything I do clear goes on the compost or is thrown to the back of the border to break down there, latter is any hollow stems so hopefully anything hibernating is undisturbed ( our borders are quite deep 2.5-3.5m and the planting is generous so its soon hidden). I’ve never found lots of slugs and snails when clearing, but I know from posts on the forum that populations seem to vary from place to place but they have never been a huge problem for us.

    With all the old stems etc left overwinter, we have had even more bird activity in the borders than we usually do. It’s delightful watching them flitting from seed head to seed head and now collecting nesting material. I’m also hoping that we see more insect life as a result of leaving all the old stems etc in place for as long as possible. 

    It has been quite interesting watching how different perennials age and decay overwinter. Some which look very messy and sad initially (eg asters, helianthus) with drooping dead leaves, soon improve as the leaves drop away and you’re left with clean upright stems. I’ve definitely had itchy fingers to do some tidying early on but so far glad I’ve resisted. I’m still actively resisting an urge to cut down and tidy our ornamental grasses but they are part of my experiment so I’ll try and persevere 🙄

    The next test will be to see if it does have any impact on new growth coming through and/or pest numbers etc 🧐


     If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”—Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,077
    Slugs are just as likely to hide under mulch or under ground cover plants as under fallen leaves. The ones in my garden are anyway. Snails seem to prefer the underneath of stones or plant pots.
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