Should you clean up leaves in the fall or spring?

Autumn is the time for the annual ritual of collecting fallen leaves. If you're especially cautious, you can even cut your perennials right then and there.

Should you clean up leaves in the fall or spring?

Autumn is the time for the annual ritual of collecting fallen leaves. If you're especially cautious, you can even cut your perennials right then and there. This “debris” can then be placed in bags to be transported. Maybe you'll be dragged to the curb and sucked in by big, noisy machines.

If you want a faster way to clean leaves than to rake them, you can blow them with a leaf blower. This will give you less control than a rake, but it will save you time. Blow the leaves in the same area so you can easily bag them or drag them onto a canvas. Most people clean their garden in the fall, mostly because this has been the tradition, but also because they want their garden to look good during the winter. You can also clean your rain gutter at the same time since you already have your leaf blower in this case you can maintain the cleanliness and avoid falling debris. If you're not comfortable in with using a ladder then you can hire a professional gutter cleaning service such as Gutter Cleaning Cypress TX to also keep you safe. 

The reality is that, for the benefit of your plants and the environment, you should leave the garden only in the fall and do the cleaning in the spring. You can extend your garden maintenance break even longer in fall by saving plant cleaning tasks until late spring (end of May). As McKeown explains, beneficial and pollinating insects overwinter on plant stems and plant debris from the ground and don't emerge until they're warm enough for them. If you have a garden with a weight limit, such as a roof garden, you must remove the leaves.

Over several seasons, the gradual accumulation of leaf debris could cause your garden to exceed your garden's weight limit. In addition, if you let a thick layer of leaves settle in your garden during the winter, it can prevent new shoots from growing in spring and even cause mold and disease. For a more detailed look at the reasons for this, see Fall Cleaning Tips: Be Good with the Environment. McKeown says he'll put leaves in an old garage container and then use his brushcutter to chop them all up.

His recommendation is to first rotate crops every 5 years (not practical for domestic growers with raised beds) and to clean the garden in the fall to remove old plant material where adults and eggs spend the winter. In addition to cold season tubers or crops, such as carrots, beets and kale, that are still in the soil, you should clean your garden and send tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. One of the main reasons for cleaning in spring is to give insects a place to spend the winter, since they need the garbage plant to survive. We avoid this by leaving the soil fallow for a few years, keeping it perfectly clean, since the eggs overwinter and hatch in April.

A good rule of thumb is to wait until you have a week of consistent daytime temperatures in the 1950s before doing any cleaning. Dear Reia, I know it's hard NOT to clean your falls because it's great to have your garden all tidy and tidy during the winter, but what you're doing is biting insects that overwinter, the eggs of moths and butterflies or pupae, etc. Along the same lines as my autumn pole, I would like to offer you now something about spring garden cleaning tips that promote a similar level of habitat preservation for beneficial insects. You may find it useful to read it if you want to learn more about how garden cleaning affects natural balance (including a lot of research on the subject).

As you clean the leaves, keep an eye out for these insects and do your best not to disturb them. We agree that leaving the leaves in place is ideal for your garden (and for all the bugs that live in it), as long as they don't pile up too much on top of the plant tops.

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