Leaves in the perennial garden #743275 - Ask Extension

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Leaves in the perennial garden #743275

Asked April 08, 2021, 1:21 PM EDT

Hi. I”m a Minnesota Mater Naturalist and lots of information in our side of the house lauds the benefits of fall leaves in your lawn and garden as natural fertilizer and habitat. Much of this makes sense, but now, in the spring, what is the best management to get those great nutrients into our garden? Is it good to get the leaves off as soon as possible, or should they decompose “in situ” for a while? What is best?

Olmsted County Minnesota

Expert Response

Hi Roger,

Thank you so much for being an Extension Master Naturalist volunteer! Your efforts are so appreciated by all of us in Extension.

I recommend gently brushing the leaves off emerging plants and leaving them on the soil as a mulch through the growing season. They'll breakdown soon enough. Saves time raking and hauling and keeps plant materials on-site. If leaves are really deep, remove all but a few inches.

Julie Weisenhorn Replied April 08, 2021, 2:20 PM EDT

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