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.
Deciduous trees have adapted to dealing with some accumulation of leaves,
and in fact befit form the reduced competition that derives from leaf fall
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??
Mike LaMana, MS, CTE
Heartwood Consulting Services, LLC
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
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
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
Given your concerns, do any apply to our experiment?
On Wed, 10 Nov 2004 16:31:39 +0000 (UTC), firstname.lastname@example.org (Will
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.
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
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
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
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
of whole leaves and possibly make for a better insulator. However,
benefit of mixing green and brown material, the decomposition of the
be very slow, possibly requiring a big cleanup the following spring.
would be to create a ring around the base of the tree, where no grass is
would require maintenance to keep the weeds and neighboring grass
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,
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
Will Renkel wrote:
email@example.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
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