Autumn ablaze in colourful leaves is an indication that our rising season is coming to an finish.

Folks like to journey round to see these leaves, however once they fall of their backyards, they aren’t so standard. We rake up each final leaf and put them to the curb to be hauled away.

Hopefully they find yourself being changed into compost, not deposited in a landfill.

Nevertheless, for those who’re a bumblebee queen about to spend the winter underground, these leaves are an ideal blanket. Many butterflies and moths spend the winter within the leaves as eggs, cocoons or chrysalis ready for spring to reach.

Eradicating all of the leaves out of your yard additionally removes most of the useful bugs we spent the summer season attempting to draw to our yards.

What’s a gardener to do?

Leaves have a number of advantages for the backyard. Apart from being an ideal place for bugs and different small critters to shelter over the winter, they’re an ideal supply of natural matter as they decay.

Natural matter can enhance the water holding capability of soils, enhance the tilth of the soil and cut back drought harm. As an alternative of shopping for compost use your free leaves.

Leaves will help defend crops from winter winds and freeze/thaw cycles. Begin with a 2 to three inch layer of leaves round crops. Cowl the vegetable backyard in a layer of leaves to forestall soil erosion.

For the intense composter having a provide of dry leaves provides you with a provide of carbon supplies to make use of subsequent summer season.

Sure, there is usually a draw back to too many leaves within the backyard.

Some leaves, like maple and catalpa can kind a heavy mat over the backyard and probably smother some crops. Voles additionally love a backyard that has a deep layer of leaves on it as they will use these to run below over the winter.

Discovering that steadiness of what works in your backyard may take some trial and error.

I’ve been attempting to get away from utilizing mulch — wooden —in my backyard and letting the leaves lie is a technique. They’ll suppress weeds and maintain moisture within the soil.

As leaves break down, additionally they add vitamins again into the soil. Shredding leaves first will assist forestall them from matting down, however you might be additionally chopping up any resident bugs which defeats the aim.

In terms of leaves, it’s not a one measurement suits all answer.

Diseased leaves, like we noticed earlier this summer season with tar spot and anthracnose in maple bushes, must be disposed of. Left on the bottom they’ll act as sources of the illness subsequent yr.

A small yard with a big tree might not have sufficient room to maintain all these leaves on the property.

Can you retain half? 1 / 4? Are you able to rake the leaves below a hedge or right into a nook?

What about lawns and leaves?

Too many leaves will smother the grass and may promote snow molds within the spring. It will probably additionally result in vole harm within the turf.

In terms of lawns, mowing leaves into small items is the best way to go as it’s going to add vitamins and natural matter to the turf. Sorry bugs!

After all, for those who can cut back how a lot garden you’ve gotten then there may be extra room for leaves and all these critters they help.

What else are you able to do to assist useful bugs and pollinators efficiently over winter in your yard? Apart from leaves, the place else do they spend the winter?

Native bees are both cavity-nesters or they create nests in areas which have naked floor.

Cavity nesting bees search for issues like rotting logs, woody stems, hole plant stems or useless branches — one thing they will excavate and lay their eggs in.

Eggs laid earlier this season will overwinter as larvae so for those who take away these supplies now no bees will probably be rising subsequent spring.

Bumblebees will make their nests in protected cavities that they may discover in a stone wall, previous rodent gap, hole log or below a tuft of bunchgrass.

Solely new queen bumblebees survive the winter, spending it on their very own. They search for a protected spot slightly below the soil floor that they will burrow into.

Our native lad bugs will over winter in giant teams and search for protected locations in leaf litter, mulch piles, tussocks of grass or below bark.

In case you simply have to chop again useless perennials this fall, think about leaving a few of the stalks for the bees to make use of subsequent spring. They like perennials which have pithy or hole stems.

By leaving stem stubble at various heights between 8 and 24 inches, you may create nesting areas, which then turn into overwintering websites. The stalks aren’t that noticeable as soon as the seed heads and leaves are gone.

Your backyard seems neat and tidy, and the bees are comfortable too.

Hold the buffet line open — I used to be capable of finding over a dozen completely different flowers nonetheless in bloom in my yard on Oct. 1, nearly all of that are native crops.

Asters are the massive winner in the case of abundance in October. I’ve a number of giant plantings of native asters, primarily calico and crooked stem aster, that the bees had been simply going loopy over.

The goldenrod is just about carried out, however there have been a number of stems in bloom right here and there — often with a couple of species of insect on it.

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’, tall coreopsis, mist flower, Jerusalem artichoke, narrow-leaf ironweed, phlox, ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod and Heuchera ‘Autumn Bride,’ sedum ‘Autumn Pleasure’ and caryopteris are all in bloom.

In case you’ve been tending your gardens to encourage pollinators and useful bugs, don’t cease now. Hold as many leaves as potential in your property.

Restrict cleansing up your backyard, so that you aren’t eradicating subsequent yr’s era of native bees, bumble bees, butterflies, and moths.

Seed heads are additionally good meals sources for our wintering birds. Your backyard doesn’t should look messy — you may nonetheless neaten issues up however do it thoughtfully.

Hold the butterflies, ladybugs, bumblebees, and fireflies in thoughts.

Have a gardening query?

Grasp Gardener volunteers are usually within the workplace Monday by means of Friday, from 10 a.m. to midday. Cease in on the CCE workplace at 420 East Predominant St. in Batavia, name (585) 343-3040, ext. 127, or e-mail them at: [email protected]

On the primary Tuesday of the month, be part of the Genesee County Grasp Gardeners for our lunch time Backyard Talks from midday to 12:45 p.m.

This system on Thursday will probably be “Winter Fowl Feeding 101.” This free program will probably be held on Zoom.

Please register at our CCE web site occasions web page at http://genesee.cce.cornell.edu/ to get your private hyperlink. Packages are recorded and posted to the CCE Genesee YouTube web page.