Gardens

Monty Don urges you to collect ‘every last’ leaf this fall – to enrich your soil for free

‘Nothing makes a better soil conditioner,’ according to the garden expert – here’s how he uses them

Fall garden with leaves and green shed
(Image credit: Sandra Clegg)

This season is instantly associated with fiery fallen leaves, but according to Monty Don, their value stretches far beyond their aesthetic. 

The garden guru who is best-known for presenting BBC’s Gardener’s World has shared that now, in particular, is the time to gather leaves for leafmold – which produces soil conditioner that will benefit your flowers long into 2022.  

Discussing these fall garden ideas on his blog, Monty revealed how your actions now will lead to healthy soil – and how to use this natural tool for free. Here, he explains what you need to know. 

Monty Don in a garden

(Image credit: Alistair Heap / Alamy Stock Photo)

Monty Don’s leafmold tip

While Monty admits that the majority of leaves fall in November, it is important to gather and store ‘every last one this month, as this will lead to more abundant leafmold for your entire garden. 

‘Climate change has meant that – in my part of the world at least – leaf fall is gradually getting later, and the autumnal color is getting more dramatic, although this obviously varies from year to year,’ he says. 

‘But every day, there is a gentle drift of leaf fall that picks up in volume as the days pass. If there is a frost, the frozen leaves clatter to the ground as the sun thaws them, and they can be raked, brittle and stiff, to head towards the leafmold heap.’

Lirodendron tulipifera tulip tree in autumn with curved tree seat

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Monty, who confesses he is ‘obsessive about making leafmould’, recommends gathering the leaves before ‘mowing them to chop them up and then stacking them in a big open heap.’ Leaving them in the heap will give them time to ‘break down into a lovely rich, crumbly texture and become an essential component of our homemade potting compost.’

The garden expert adds that ‘nothing makes for a better soil conditioner or potting medium,’ so it is important to gather as many as you can. However, you need to act now, especially if you need to create a small garden storage solution. 

‘If you do not have somewhere to store them sort this out early in the month,’ Monty says. He recommends creating a ‘simple bay from four posts and chicken wire’ – which you can pick up on Amazon

Looking up at autumn trees with orange and red leaves in the forest

(Image credit: Alex Walker)

Monty's cottage garden idea will organize your exterior and enrich your plants for free – it’s time we get picking.  

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc’s homes titles, including Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. As a News Writer, she often focuses on emerging microtrends, sleep and wellbeing stories, and celebrity-focused pieces. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.