I left all the leaves that fell in my garden. Can I use them as mulch this season or should I remove them? Thanks.
Good question...I have 6 bags of leaves (roadside rescue) that 'overwintered' at the side of my house that I was planning to spread over the garden. I hope someone with more experience than me will let us know the answer to this one!
It all depends. If they are covering the perennials which will be emerging too thick, then you need to remove them a bit from the crowns of the plants.
I do use leaves as mulch but I shred them. It looks really good and keeps the moisture in the soil in the dead of summer and in the end it provides nutrients as well. And it's FREE!!
I don't have a shredder. Is that okay? I think it's a pretty thin layer, unfortunately too thin to smother my weeds. I think my perennials should be safe but I will keep my eyes open to make sure. Good thing I didn't groom my garden at the end of the year because I moved everything around later in the season and have no idea where anything is going to come up!
Leaf mulch is the best mulch you can use. It is free, becomes compost within one season, and makes a great 'top dressing' for your garden.
You can't really leave big leaves on top of your perennials. You are best to shred them. You don't need a shredder - you can use a lawnmower.
Just take all your leaves in the fall and mow over them once. If you have a lawn mower with a bag to catch the clippings, it will be a little easier to collect them, otherwise you can just rake them up and put them in a garbage bag to spread on your plants either in the fall or in the spring.
If you can manage to move the leaves carefully off of your plants now and they are not very wet, you can mow over them right away and apply the mulch now or later this spring.
Mary"s idea of using a mower to mulch is good, and you can also place your leaves in a garbage can and then use a whipper snipper on them. I've heard that works well too but make sure you have earplugs. :O)
What I have is a leafblower/vacuum. I never use the blower part, just the vacuum which shreds the leaves and sucks them into a bag. They are not that expensive. Mine probably costs about $70.00 and I've had it for 3 or 4 years. When you think of all the mulch I would have purchased, well, investing in this gizzmo was well worth it!! Mine is a B&D Leafhog. There are other great models out there too.
For now, keep an eye on your gardens since you moved things around in the fall. If it is a thin layer, then you will be fine.