The leaves started falling in mid-August; a few cool nights and the fall (the Americans definitely have the best name for the event) kicked in. A few trees started to lose their greenness, opting instead to take on the hues of autumn. Let’s face it, winter is but a spit and cough away – but in August!
Believe it or not, some leaves cause more problems than others. So if forewarned is forearmed, enjoy the stunning colours but take note and try to avoid the “Infamous Five” which can turn the year-end into a nightmare.
Oak tree leaves stick to each other, making them hard to manipulate and move while horse chestnut leaves disintegrate very quickly and become stringy when wet, which means they stick to patios, paths and paving slabs.
Lime leaves, however, are liable to break down when they are wet, again making them hard to remove, and sweet chestnut leaves rot down quickly when they are wet and stick to concrete and paving, not only making them look unattractive, but also making them slippery.
Finally, walnut leaves are fairly large, making them even more troublesome when thousands fall in one garden.
Leaves come in all shapes and sizes – and they all decay at different rates. The five that are crowned the most troublesome here are from common deciduous trees and, therefore, the ones that year after year are most likely to cause problems if they’re not cleared up properly.
Every gardener knows it’s best to turn leaves into compost and replenish the soil, but it’s not as easy as that. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leaf clearing and removal, which is why you’ve really got to know your beech from your hornbeam and your rowan from your ash if you’re to keep your garden tidy and prepare it for the winter.
Shredding is a good way to speed up the decomposition of tougher leaves such as horse chestnut and sweet chestnut.
Beech and oak are best for turning into compost, so stack them in a compost bin and turn them once or twice to aid decomposition.
Always try to clear as often as possible to avoid an unmanageable build-up. And use the right garden tool for your leaves, otherwise you’ll just end up making a mush on your patio and a mess on your lawn.