Do I HAVE TO clean off any dead leaves from last fall on my beds before I add good new compost
Yes Im lazy and very old and creaky
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. While leaves left in garden beds contribute nutrients that enrich the soil, and also provide shelter for beneficial insects to overwinter, there are a couple of good reasons to remove them in the spring :
- Matted leaves can smother emerging plants. If the leaves have been shredded before being put on the beds, they are probably already well on their way to decomposition and can be left there.
- Leaves and plant matter from the previous season can harbour insects and disease, ready to get the new season off to a bad start.
You know your garden and its history best, but all things considered our recommendation is to remove any dead leaves from annuals and perennial plant matter and then add fresh compost to provide additional organic matter.
It’s very tempting to get out in our gardens as soon as the days are warmer. However it’s a good idea to wait until the soil is fully defrosted and dry (feels crumbly not sticky) before starting any work in order to prevent compacting the soil (especially clay soil) by walking on it.
Here are a couple of spring clean up guides that you might find helpful :
Happy gardening !
April 11, 2021