Nature with Nik Mitchell: Leaves are not litter

Nik shares the value of leaves

Leaves are not litter. Relax, enjoy and refrain from sweeping all that magic and beauty away.

Autumn’s here and carpets of colourful leaves are all around as deciduous trees shed their leaves and prepare for winter. Weather conditions and daylight length signal the onset of winter and trees absorb valuable nutrients from their leaves and store them in their roots

Although trees are finished with their leaves, they now go on to serve another very important purpose. Leaf litter serves as vital food and habitat for our wildlife.

It’s not long before a whole range of species are taking advantage of the golden blanket. It provides a warm, safe place to shelter from the elements and serves as a food source for both creatures that eat the leaves and creatures which eat those creatures. Things like Hedgehogs, over wintering moths and butterflies, birds, frogs, ear wigs, woodlouse and much more rely on the fallen golden leaves.

Leaf litter is of course good for us too because biodiversity equals life. Getting all worked up about raking up leaves is not good for your mental health, relax. In areas you do need to rake up the leaves do not discard them. Instead pile them on your garden beds or in the corners of the garden where they might be used by wildlife.

Much of it will be pulled deep underground by earthworms and lots of it will become high-grade compost. Soil quality is extremely important for many reasons and it’s said that there is more life in soil than the rest of the garden. Allowing the nutrients from leaf litter to be pulled down to the soil is one of the best ways to improve its quality.

So, when it comes to the winter clean-up… leave the leaves, Relax and enjoy.


  1. Leaves are potentially beautiful lovely colours fine if people have gardens but on roads they tend to be hazzard when wet and block drainage then potential flooding. Nature is good for all of us but some need clearing.

    • Yes, they are a bloody menace for mobility scooters, especially Sycamore leaves that get trapped under my wheels!

  2. “Things like hedgehogs…..”
    These are called animals,not things.Is your vocabulary so poor,that you have to call these creatures,things!

  3. Put them in a compost bin, or a black bag and let them rot down very good as leaf mulch around plants if thickness is enough can stop weeds coming through, down side is wet leaves on a pavement and if it’s raining very often elderly people will slip up and break hips and legs while on the trees beautiful to look at the colours in the autumn especially the acer’s.

  4. ‘Getting all worked up about raking up leaves is not good for your mental health …’ Does that happen? Blimey!

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