For many people, raking up or blowing autumn leaves from lawns and flower beds is an annual chore. Granted, it does make a garden look a little neater, but are there any other benefits to removing fallen leaves from flower beds, or should you just let them be? Here’s everything you need to know…
The Benefits of Leaving Leaves in Flower Beds
In many cases, leaving your autumn leaves to settle into your flower beds can actually be very beneficial. For starters, those leaves will act as a mulch, helping to maintain a consistent soil temperature and moisture level throughout the winter months. Those same leaves will also help to insulate tender plants, protecting them from the upcoming cold temperatures.
So far, it would seem as though allowing fallen leaves to remain in your flower beds is the best way to go. However, just like with everything in life, there are a few exceptions…
How to Deal With Plants Smothered by Leaves
If you notice that the plants in your flower beds are starting to be covered by leaves, then it’s time to remove them, or at least some of them. This is often the case with small succulent plants, which can quickly end up smothered.
A covering of leaves will prevent those plants from accessing sunlight, while blocking air circulation. As you can imagine, your plants will struggle to survive in those conditions.
If you’ve been hoping that some of your summer and autumn plants will self-seed around your flower beds, then a covering of leaves wouldn’t be beneficial. The leaves would basically act like a mulch, and in the same way that a mulch prevents unwanted weed seeds from developing, it would block any wanted seeds too.
Consider Soil pH
Some trees can be quite acidic, and this applies to their leaves as well. A heavy layer of acidic leaves decomposing in a flower bed will soon turn the soil in that bed acidic too.
If you’re growing acid-loving plants in your flower bed, then this would be a bonus. However, this pH may be too low for alkaline-loving plants, meaning that those acidic leaves would best be removed.
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The Spread of Pests and Diseases
If you’ve noticed that any of the trees around your flower beds haven’t been looking too healthy, then those aren’t leaves that you want near your plants. If the leaves are diseased or infected, then they’ll spread this to your flower bed as they decompose, making it wise to remove them.
In the majority of cases, a light leaf mulch can really benefit a flower bed. However, make sure that your plants aren’t being smothered, and that the leaves aren’t acidic, diseased or infected – if any of this rings true, then those leaves should be removed as soon as possible.