Don’t Look Up!

Our front garden yesterday morning!

Front garden carpeted in leaves

Front garden carpeted in leaves

The traveller and I spent a happy couple of hours transporting this lot to the compost bins.

Leaves on ground

Leaves on ground: sycamore, oak, elm and beech.

The traveller used the electric leafvac round the edges and the flower beds and I used an old fashioned leaf rake, a couple of bin bags and a wheelbarrow on the main lawn. I am not boasting, but I know who moved more leaves!!  OK, I know the leafvac did shred the leaves to some extent, but it also kept getting blocked as the leaves were quite large and pretty wet.

Anyway we were quite happy having pretty well cleared the area, until

we looked up!

Leaves still on trees

Leaves still on trees


More leaves still on the tree.

I don’t think we have really got started yet.  The traveller left for warmer climes this morning – good planning eh?

The leaf composting areas

The leaf composting areas

The leaves are left in these areas for 2 – 3 years until they turn into a lovely crumbly soil-like compost.  I have two newish wire containers and two very old coal cellars at the back of the garage which are wonderful for this purpose. It is a bit tricky to get in them to tread down the leaves though – NO I didn’t get a photo!!

A couple of years later it is all worthwhile. (I still don’t understand how Monty Don composts his leaves in just one year!)

Before. . .

Before. . .



It does make you wonder, though, why we don’t just let the leaves lie on the flower beds for a couple of years – it would save a lot of work!!!










20 thoughts on “Don’t Look Up!

  1. Good for you Annette. Job well done! Monty Don probably has his leafmould/compost in a lovely open sunny hot spot and turns it vigorously several times which is beyond the will of most gardeners! We also have mature trees and a lot of leaves. I only collect them for about 20 minutes each time with a rake and wheelbarrow. I enjoy that. Any longer and I start to get a bit bored repeating the task and start talking to myself like a mad woman! I try to collect most leaves from the lawn, paths and borders but in the bluebell wood I just leave them. I read somewhere that you should never collect leaves in a wood because the trees need them for good growth next year. Towards the end of leaf fall when the earth is very wet I just push the leaves underneath the hedges like a mulch. In spring Blackbird fledglings hide under the hedges and use the mulch like a buffet – it’s full of worms and other goodies by then.

    • Yes, I expect Monty shreds his leaves too. I do leave quite a lot of leaves round the edges, Gillian, but not necessarily on purpose – it is just that I never get them all up! There is a fine balance between discouraging slugs and snails and leaving material for more beneficial creatures. I do worry sometimes that I am too tidy in the borders, but I do have bits that I leave too.I guess it is all about balance.

  2. We store our leaves in a corner of the woodland, no turning, no bothering with them, but they are ready by the next year. They are just heaped into a pile and get lots of rain on them in the winter. We do sweep up the woodland, sounds crazy I know, but I find that the snowdrops push the leaves up when they come through and we can’t see the flowers as the horse chestnut leaves are sitting on top, hiding them. I always mulch the woodland after all the leaves are down, so the trees and other plants are still getting their nourishment.

    • That is interesting Pauline. Maybe it is the colder temperatures up here that make them take longer to break down. I think water is important too. When I used to keep them in bags I found the dry bags took longer than the wet bags. At least all this sweeping keeps us fit!

  3. I usually leave some of the leaves that fall on the borders but collect the rest from paths etc. sometimes I clear any remaining leaves from the borders in spring and add them (they are half rotted by this stage to the compost. This year the leaves are hanging on but they are turning a bit yellow so I’m sure if we have some strong wind they will all be down.

    • That is a good idea, Christina. I usually still have lots of leaves to pick up in the spring too as they keep appearing all winter. It is usually a nice surprise to see what is emerging under them, isn’t it.

  4. Leaf compost is really worth the effort, being weed seed free compared to garden compost. I think Monty collects the majority of his using a lawn mower. I mow leaves on the lawn, when chopped with some grass they rot down quicker.

    • Actually that sounds a good idea, but as our front lawn is nearly all moss we wouldn’t get any grass cuttings at this time of the year. It still might be worth going over them with the mower though.

  5. We clear up the leaves from paths/walkways on the front garden, out of kindness to the milkman and postie, and any guests we might have. it’s so windy in our Swansea back garden that it isn’t worth the effort to rake most years. Either way, I do carefully pull out any buddleia seed heads (too productive!) before putting leaves in the leaf cage. Decomposition varies depending on the weather, between one and two years.

      • Yes, we do! Daily delivery is not an option, so it’s three times a week. It does cost more than in the shops, but I love that we get to have returnable, reusable glass bottles. AND it’s one less heavy thing to have to carry when we do go shopping.

  6. I can admit to some serious laziness when it comes to leaves. The mower goes over everything and what’s left in the beds mostly stays there until spring. The shredded leaves go onto the newer beds and cover up all the weeds and debris which I never cleaned up in October 🙂

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