Leaf blanket

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Dum Thumb, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. Dum Thumb

    Dum Thumb Member

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    Is there an advantage to leaving a layer of leaves on the garden beds. I have heard that leaves are acidic and reduce weed growth. Is there anything to this?
    Thanks for your help
     
  2. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    In heavy rainfall areas, leaf mulch/cover will reduce resultant leaching and perhaps insulate any over wintering perrennials and if severe freezing temperatures are common the benefits will be gained. Slugs will be prevalent if on the west coast. In spring, I would compost the mulch.
     
  3. Lysichiton

    Lysichiton Active Member

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    The leaves & needles of some trees produce more acidic conditions as they decompose than others, is my response. Coniferous needles - by & large acidic. Broadleaf deciduous - by & large more neutral.

    Some trees have particular issues for this gardener in terms of mulching & composting & I won't use them: Oak -very acid. Walnut - inhibits the growth of other plants &/or acidic (??). Cedar - acid & chemicals toxic to some plants. I am sure there are others that are not too good as well.

    I try to remember that many perennials, bulbs & annuals we grow originate in woodland understories or meadows & are quite happy with an inch of two of leaves dumped on them every year. This lazy gardener leaves the leaves.

    Slugs & snails? In my yard they eat a bit of the young growth, but on mature plants, they mostly seem to eat the algae that grows on the plant (please correct me if I am wrong). At any rate I don't get a lot of damage on perennials ...quite a bit on my tender juicy veggies if I let them have their way.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Yes, the perennials etc. that are liable to be bothered are kinds not adapted to living beneath trees and their litter. As always, specific outcomes are based on particular details involved.
     
  5. Dum Thumb

    Dum Thumb Member

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    Thank you all for your replies. I think I will clear the beds so I can see the weeds and remove as they come up. I find that weeding in wet soil is an easier job and helps keep me active during the winter.
    Thanks.
     
  6. gardenscaper

    gardenscaper Member

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    Leaf blankets can be helpful over the winter months to help insulate your perennials - I usually leave the leafs of the maples, arbutus etc. until the spring; but don't leave any leaves that are infected in your garden beds, particularly from roses. Nasty spores can overwinter in the leaves and re-infect in the spring, and dispose of any infected leaves by burning or put them in the trash - don't add them to your compost.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Bare soil is a generally adverse situation seen routinely in nature only in severe habitats like deserts. How bothered herbaceous plants are by the presence of litter relates to the kind of situations they or their wild progenitors occur in natively. Tulips, for instance, are desert flowers and do in fact like to be more or less completely free of shading and debris. A layer of tree and shrub leaves in or near these will be likely to result in adversity. However, many other garden flowers will not be as extreme in their requirements.
     
  8. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

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    I have elm trees along my street and they generate great quantities of leaves. I have about 1' of them on my front beds, where I have dicentra, primula, tulips, narcissus, hostas, dahlias and fuchsia. The plants have never been bothered by the presence of the leaves over winter.

    I generally toss them in the city recycling bins in the spring because they do not compost well for me - form an impenetrable wet mass.

    I have never seen a slug associated with the leaves although of course, this being the west coast, there are lots of slugs around. Do you mean that you expect to see slugs living under the leaves, or what? They sure do not eat the leaves!
     

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