fallen leaves as mulch

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It sounds lazy, but I was wondering if piling leaves upon bulb beds, shrub beds, etc is beneficial at all or is it necessary to mulch completely?
thanks,
Pati
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Its best to either compost it or run it through a shredder first.

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But if you mix the leaves into the general heap of composted matter, you don't end up with leafmold, which is great stuff for the garden. And unless you have gigantic leaves there is no reason to shred. Extremely large leaves might function as a water barrier keeping the ground too dry in spots. Most of the leaves that fall in my yard are beeches, hornbeam, cherries, Japanese maples, oak -- & others all small enough to not need mulching. I get a few big leaves from a Bigleaf maple that's not in my yard but sheds into my yard, & these as much as I can manage I put on an area of tulip bulbs which can benefit from the slight ability of the largest leaves to provide a winter water barrier for a short while before breaking down into leafmold.
I dunno how well it'd work in much colder areas where it takes longer for leaves to break down, but I would think fallen leaves would be the most natural mulch possible, anywhere where deciduous trees would be growing.
-paghat the ratgirl
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Pati Rock wrote:

I do it without shredding. It's great around roses, camellias, azaleas, and other shrubs. In the summer, this keeps the soil cool and moist, reducing the amount of watering I have to do.
But you have to be careful about not covering desirable plants. It's too easy to smother low-growing plants (e.g., ground cover). Be sure that you don't pile the leaves higher than small bulbs can grow.
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That's why it is best to shred the leaves. It prevents that problem from happening in the first place.

shrub
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God doesn't shred the leaves in the forest, I haven't seen Mother Nature out there doing it either :o) Colleen Zone 5 CT
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GrampysGurl wrote:

Neither God nor Mother Nature plant in beds, either. Nor do they move the leaves into piles.
If you want to use the logic that if God and Mother Nature don't do it that way, then there is no need to ever go out and do anything in your garden. Let God and Mother Nature take care of the weeding, pruning, soil amending, and plant propogation.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (GrampysGurl) wrote:

Oh yeh? When last I visited Eden, God was not only shredding leaves to put around the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil, but he was singing the old gospel tune "Gimme summa dat ol' time religion."

She was there, & told God to wipe the mud from his shoes before coming in for lunch. She'd cooked Him a lovely roast leviathan.
-paggers

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What in the heck does god have to do with anything?
We are talking about a garden. A garden is something that is a completely artificial man-made environment. Most likely none of the plant you have in your garden would ever be found growing together naturally in the wild.

out
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I have snowberries, sword ferns, deer ferns, evergreen huckleberries, western bleeding hearts, salal, & western corydalis growing all in the same general vicinity of the garden. Would they be found growing together in the wild? Yup. Did someone called God make them? Only if the moon is made of cheese.
-paggers

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Leaving god to one side for a moment - I'd advise shredding them an
turning them into leafmould (after as little as six months, you can us them as mulch). This year I left the leaves where they fell in the en section of my garden (called Dog Wood, because all the trees & shrub there have attractive bark...) and they provide the perfect home fo slugs, who are busy chomping their way through my hellebores an foxgloves.
paghat Wrote:

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Don't bet on it my garden is almost 100% native, a few non natives will be pulled as soon as a native replacement becomes available for me :o)
If the mulch is around the plant and not totally over the crown it isn't going to hinder any growing of the plant in the spring.
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Anything you plant in your garden that you got from somewhere else is not native to your yard, Buckwheat.
Just because it is found somewhere else in your part of the world doesn't mean that it is actually native to your immediate area.

going
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Since it appears you've seen everything in my garden I am sure you are correct. Love the "nick name" @@ <~~~ eye roll
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I don't need to see anything in your garden, GrumpyGurl.
If you got the plants from somewhere else and put them in your garden, they are not native. Its just that simple.
Your eyes must roll around a lot because there doesn't anything but empty space between your ears.
<~~~ eye roll
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Bet your mama is proud, her little boy never grew up.
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God may not shred leaves in the forest or on the lawns in my neighborhood, but the wind sure does. It also blows leaves into great piles against fences, around houses and under TREES too.
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Pati Rock wrote:

Depends on how many leaves, what kind of weather you have in the winter, and what's growing there.
There is no single, right answer. However, if you pile unshredded leaves high enough, the pile is going to be there longer than next spring. You may just be deferring work even if you're piling them on an empty bed that's waiting for annuals to be planted in spring.
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Its what I do & the gardens certainly seem to benifit by it. With our wet temperate winters on Puget Sound, there's nothing left of the leaves but a few skeletons by early spring, it's all the world's best leafmold in no time. I was pleased to see one of our local television gardening stars on Gardening with Cisco in one episode going all "Oo-la-la!" at the joy of mulching with leaves in his garden in autumn, & giddily worried about those people who foolishly bag their leaves & sit them on the curb for the city compost.
-paghat the ratgirl
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"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
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People who raise fig trees outdoors here in Pennsylvania build a barrier around their fig trees and fill the barrier with whole leaves to protect the fig trees during our winters. It works for figs. In the spring they must remove the leaves, so they compost them then.
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