Piling leaves around trees

I have several neighbors who are piling their leaves around the base of their trees. The piles are about 2 feet high and about 4-5 feet out from the base of the tree. Can someone enlighten me on the pros / cons of such a process? I would think it could kill the grass.
--
---------------------------------------------------------------
Will Renkel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Deciduous trees have adapted to dealing with some accumulation of leaves, and in fact befit form the reduced competition that derives from leaf fall in forests.
The practice of suffocating the landscape with artificial concentrations of leaves has ramifications to which native trees are not necessarily adapted: Increased rot at the root collar; girdling of smaller trees by rodents living in the warm, decaying piles; anoxia of the soil as the leaves turn to snotty slime ( in some cases);changes in soil pH not usual for woodland settings; binding of nitrogen d=from the soil as decay of all the carbon in the leaves drains local resources, etc.
In short...usually not a good thing. Your neighbors should mimic nature more. When was the last time you noticed leaves naturally heaping themselves into volcanoes about trees??
ML
--
Mike LaMana, MS, CTE
Heartwood Consulting Services, LLC
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
and this says it best of all. Wise words! In my own woods, the many, many oak leaves and assorted remaining leaves and pine needles have fallen almost evenly. The winds that come thru and make little drifts aren't nearly as imposing to the trees as these volcano's these people are making. First it was mulch heaped up like a volcano (which our master gardening program mailed out warnings to enlighten homeowners who didn't know better) and now LEAVES?? Thanks for the informative and great response. madgardener who is starting to look for those bags of leaves alongside the roads now to replenish her two compost piles, up on the ridge, back in Fairy Holler, overlooking English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7., Sunset zone 36 where the leaves are almost off all the trees now..................................
--
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Our local park has pecan trees growing in topsoil-depleted, compacted, limestone rock and sand, high PH. The trees apparently survived by a sprinkler system, that became defunct years ago. Rain runs off before much soaks into the well draining "soil". The trees are suffering with more ends of their limbs dying off each year.
Here's what we did. We ringed the trunk with fence to protect the root flare, and added a 18' diameter fence around that. We have about a foot of slowly composting, damp but not soggy, leaves inside the fence. We're also covering the rest of the park with composted wood mulch. The advantages of retaining soil moisture, getting some biota going, especially worms, and getting organic nutrients into the soil were our primary goals. Given your concerns, do any apply to our experiment?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 16:31:39 +0000 (UTC), snipped-for-privacy@xnet.com (Will Renkel) wrote:

A thick layer of leaves will weaken or kill the grass. Piling leaves around the base of a tree is not a good idea because
- tree bark needs to breathe and should not be covered - encourages rodents/insects to take up residence - moisture may lead to harmful mold/mildew
Having said that, leaves are nature's winter blanket and as leaves rot nutrients are returned to the soil. I may pile leaves on a tree or shrub that needs extra protection, but not an established tree.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(Will

I always pile leaves in the gardens for wintering. Is that a bad idea, too?
Giselle (I figure it's sort of an effortless mulch/protection until spring)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Volfie wrote:

It depends on what's in the garden, how big the pile is, and what you're trying to accomplish.
--
Warren H.

==========
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Okay: Nothing exciting. Less than 2' high. A little free mulch/good nutrients.
Giselle (I'm the world's worst gardener with red clay soil to boot)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I agree with most comment about negatives of piling leaves around trees. My solution is to make lots of mulch and distribute that around the trees, being careful to leave a gap close to the trunk. Mulch has the advantage over leaves in that it will stay in place. I mentioned in a similar reply about putting leaves on top of the garden that as they decompose, they may draw nitrogen from the surrounding soil. Mulch is also a better insulator than dry leaves and provides a better 'blanket' to protect the trees from wide temperature swings in Winter. If one does not have the time or inclination to make mulch, the next best thing would be to run the leaves through a lawn mower to chop them up. That would somewhat control the matting tendency of whole leaves and possibly make for a better insulator. However, without the benefit of mixing green and brown material, the decomposition of the leaves would be very slow, possibly requiring a big cleanup the following spring. Another technique would be to create a ring around the base of the tree, where no grass is grown. This would require maintenance to keep the weeds and neighboring grass encroaching into it. It probably is healthier for the tree, as the grass growing close to the trunk is taking energy away from the tree. Also, adding things like fertilizer, sand, mulch, etc. is easier to do with such a ring. This active maintenance is more important for younger trees, or fruit trees where energy is removed by picking the fruit.
Sherwin D.
Will Renkel wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@xnet.com (Will Renkel) wrote in message

Condisider that when you mow leaves you get about a 10:1 volume reduction or better, and when those leaves decompose you see about another 4:1 reduction. It probably does not hurt to pile the leaves on the dripline of trees. I would pull them back a foot or more from the actual trunk lest you make a place for rot and fungi to develop and aplace for mice and voles to gnaw undetected.
Note I said mowed leaves as the shredded ones don't seem to mat into a slimy mass.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.