With Spring upon us, after a non existent winter in the Mid Atlantic, we are all itching to do a Spring Clean. But, the clean sweep is better left inside the house… outside, those leaves are doing a lot of good. So, don’t rake those leaves out of the flowerbed just yet. Douglas Tallamy plant and wildlife expert and the author of the acclaimed book, ‘Bringing Nature Home’, says that over half of the 3000 species of butterflies and moths in the Mid Atlantic area, overwinter in leaf litter. Early bird clean up destroys the larvae that hatch when the weather warms. The beautiful pollinators that our gardens need are yet to be born! Songbirds collect the litter to build their nests. And leaf cover protects smaller animals from predators. So, save the leaf clean up for May. Leaves left in place also help to reduce weeds, keep the soil temperatures cool, and maintain moisture. As the leaves breakdown they add natural decomposition elements to the soil, and reduce the need to purchase, ‘good dirt.’ Decomposing pine needles and oak leaves create acidity and lower the pH of the soil composition. Rhododendrons, azaleas, hydrangeas, mountain laurel and blueberries love soil with a low pH, so you’re also helping to nourish your garden by allowing the leaves to stay put!
Walking through the woods, on a crisp fall day, or during any other season, reminds us that nature doesn’t sweep up. Years of regeneration created by decomposing leaves are what keeps the ecological balance in nature and help to maintain species diversity. The natural process of the eastern deciduous forest depends on leaf litter to build up the soils for future generations.
For more information contact Landis Garden Design – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Tallamy’s book, ‘Bringing Nature Home’ www.timberpress.com