Is it good to leave fallen leaves in the garden over winter?


Is it good to leave fallen leaves in the garden over the winter? Is it beneficial? When can they be raked up in the spring?


Viña Lindley, Food Systems & Home Horticulture Professional

Absolutely, leaves make a great mulch since they’re free, readily available, and full of nutrients that release slowly over time.  A layer of 3-4″ of leaves will help protect the soil from the erosion and leaching of nutrients and feed the beneficial organisms in the soil.  It is a good idea to shred your leaves, if possible, with a lawnmower before you add them to your garden.  If you are able to shred your leaves it will help them break down more quickly, keep them from blowing away and prevent them from matting down.  In the spring you can use a garden fork to turn the leaves into the soil or leave them on the surface as a way to provide continued weed suppression, moisture control, and nutrients or you can rake them out of the beds and into the isles to help mulch pathways.  No matter what you’ll be adding great benefits to your garden.