I have a small hilled area in shade and Rhodes, ferns grow. Should I clean up all the dead leaves from my split-maple, or leave? Worried about bacteria. I am a resident of Mississauga.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
You can certainly leave your maple leaves on your hilled area. The leaves will serve as a natural mulch, helping to retain soil moisture and suppress weeds and as the leaves break down they will add organic matter to the soil.
Bacteria are always present in the soil and in the leaf litter and most of them are beneficial and are essential to the process of breaking down all those maple leaves.
As with any mulch, you should ensure the leaves are not piled around the stems of plants. The extra moisture trapped around the stem can lead to decay.
To read more about leaving the leaves on your garden, I’m including a link to our response to an earlier question on this topic. Enjoy your garden!