Conifer trees litter clearing

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Richard E Masson, Aug 2, 2019.

  1. Richard E Masson

    Richard E Masson Active Member

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    I work as a maintenance gardener in a gated community of seven smart houses in Kent, England. The communal areas are semi-parkland with grass and all conifer shrubs and trees along with Laurel. All these plants create a considerable litter of leaves which falls under the trees and around them and up to recently has been allowed to naturally accumulate as there is a natural path around the trees. There has been occasional tidying. A new resident is very keen to ‘tidy everything’ and has arranged for all the litter to be removed every year, it being taken away and burnt somewhere. Each Summer is getting warmer - is there a danger in this practice? Are the plants going to run out of nutrients and are they going to dry out?
    Note: All plants survive just on natural rainfall.
    Comments welcome.
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Seems like effort and cost to solve a problem that doesn't exist. And yes, once you start removing nutrients (and associated biodiversity in leaf litter in upper levels of soil), you then need to look at paying for fertilizing...
     
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    If it must be neat and tidy, perhaps grind the debris with a chipper and reapply as mulch.
     
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  4. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    It is a great idea :-)
     
  5. Richard E Masson

    Richard E Masson Active Member

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    Thank you for helpful comments!

    I had, a few years ago, suggested and got plans and prices for building a smart wooden composting unit but one of the residents said ‘no’ and the proposal failed.
    I think the only way I can persuade the gentleman to change his behaviour and simply leave the majority of litter in situ is if it becomes obvious, that with global warming and the very hot Summers we are regularly having there will be a danger of the shrubs and trees dying (which will involve them going all brown and aesthetically being nasty) if the litter is removed (which I assume is a store of moisture?) and such removal will exacerbate the possibility of dying trees - but is this true? And is there any Papers I can refer to?
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, keeping the leaf litter around the trees helps conserve both moisture and nutrients, and also helps maintain steadier soil temperatures. The trees will look in a lot better condition in these more natural conditions; clearing the leaf litter will result in the trees slowly losing vigour and looking less good over the years.
     
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