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how long is too long--for autumn leaves

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Joined: 3/29/2006
Posts: 10
Posted: May/03/2006 12:28 AM PST

I did not do a very good job raking up autumn leaves with the hope that they would feed nutrients to the soil in their decaying process? as spring is upon my garden, I'm starting to get the feeling I did a bad idea. A gardener had passed my garden one rainy afternoon and said that they could ruin my perrenials, but I would like a second opinion~thanks!
Joined: 4/20/2006
Location: Lovely East Texas
Posts: 5
Posted: May/03/2006 1:59 AM PST

I have bark over my perrenials, they all come up with no problem and spread. Although I do know that leaves keep out light and they mat and it is hard to get water through after they do. I'm not an expert - just been there. My Mom has gardened and grown every flower imaginable and that's what she taught me. What works best for us is we pray and ask the Lord to bless our flowers and gardens - He does!
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Joined: 5/09/2005
Posts: 19587
Posted: May/03/2006 3:00 AM PST

You do need to remove the whole leaves from your flower beds. You want them to decompose, not smother your plants, so you should shred them in the fall by going over them with the lawn mower. That will speed up decomposition. I've heard that leaves take about a year to decompose.

Now that the weather is warm and dry, I'd rake all the leaves off and mow them. You can put them back on your beds or compost them. Personally, I think the beds look nicer without them, so I'm leaving mine in a damp pile to breakdown some more over the summer, then I'll mulch my beds with the decomposed leaves in the fall. My original plan was to leave them on the beds and dig them in or cover them with several inches of compost, but I got into an early spring clean-up frenzy, so off they came!
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