Alan Titchmarsh warns against prolonging removing autumn leaves

Alan Titchmarsh explains how to use autumn leaves to improve soil

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Autumn is the ideal time to give your garden a thorough tidy, before the cold weather sets in. In a video for Waitrose & Partners, Alan Titchmarsh has urged gardeners to avoid prolonging time to remove fallen leaves in gardens. He claimed that if leaves are left on lawns for too long they will be “killed off”. The gardening pro suggested what can be done with the leaves once they have been collected.

During the autumn, fallen leaves can become a nuisance, but Alan has highlighted the importance of gathering them up to prevent parts of the lawn and plants from becoming damaged.

He said: “They’re [lawns] probably drowning at the moment under a blanket of leaves. Now you may be tempted on the lawn to think I’ll wait until they’re all down and then I’ll have one being clean up. Don’t!”

Clearing up leaves may be time-consuming, but according to the gardening pro, it is an essential gardening job during the autumn. 

He explained: “If they sit there for weeks, an oak leaves remember don’t come down till about Christmas, by the time you rake them off in that one big clean up you’ll find that there’s no grass left underneath – it’ll be killed off.” 

Just as with lawns, plants in garden beds and borders are especially vulnerable too.

If leaves are left sitting in the centre of crowns on border perennials, Alan warned they could “kill them”.

He explained that if an abundance of leaves are left covering the plants, by the spring time gardeners often discover they have died. 

To gather up leaves, Alan advised using a plastic rake as opposed to a wire toothed rake.

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The expert pointed out that while it is best to gather up as many leaves as possible, leaving a few on the ground will not cause too much damage.

He explained that those left in the garden would gradually rot down and enrich the soil.

Once the leaves have been gathered, Alan advised storing them in plastic bags so that they rot.

He said: “So get them off regularly. What do you do with them? The easiest thing to do with them is to put them into black plastic bin liners. 

“Stab the bin liners first with a fork so you’ve got these little holes in it, that allows just a little bit of air to get in.

“The most important thing is when you put them in, these [the leaves] are bone dry, if they stay bone dry they won’t rot down. Dampen them and firm them in.”

Leaves should be moist, but not soaking wet, and must not be packed too tightly.

Alan suggested gathering up the leaves “little and often” to prevent too much damage to the surrounding greenery.

As leaves become damp, they begin to rot and break down rapidly, according to the expert.

Alan continued: “After a year, if you stack them in an out of the way corner, they’ll look like this – brown and crumbly. 

“Then with a sieve you can put it through to get this brown crumbly stuff out.” Showing the camera the sieved decomposed leaves, the gardening expert said: “Look what you get, perfect leaf mould.”

Leaf mould is created from leaves which have decayed and provide a good source of nutrients for soil.

Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh airs on Sundays at 9:30am on ITV.

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