Natural woodland plantings VS 'messy' woods

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I am gardening in a 45 yr old subdivision. I have borders on two sides of the yard where large trees have leafmulched areas underneath, trying to look natural. We mulch leaves into the awn, we compost, and still end up with leaves piled up under bushes and along fences.

I think in my effort at Natural I must sometimes exert some unnatural Neatness , to make it the way I want. Too many dead tree leaves gets too messy looking at times, do they not? (Besides burying the more delicate growers of ephemerals) Even nature lovers like me start to feel itchy and buggy and snake-y-?

Do you agree?
DO you have any suggestions on how to maintain a woodland wildflower planting?

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Without images or more details of the sites under discussion, I can only offer ideas and perceptions.

For one: the itchiness/bugginess/snake-iness will not change whether the leaves are poufy or not.

For two: during the winter, you could take a lawn mower set at the highest level and run it over the fallen leaves in place under the trees. This would disintegrate them somewhat, and there would be less "piles" while heading toward faster decomposition.

As per the ephemerals: you could always do what I do. Cut holes through the fallen dead leaves, so that the emerging native wildflowers can grow unimpeded.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

The mower suggestion is one I can certainly use this fall.

I removed some of the deeper leaves today, to the compost, and keeping some leaf cover , after all, it IS mimicking woodland.

I use local rocks to edge the beds and path; today I lifted some of the rocks and swept out some of the debris, to keep the rock border actually visible. I think "an edge" really helps it look defined especially when I have indistinct path.
I also edited the rocks in the edge, removing a couple large ones to keep it more uniform.

Some effort at good labels will ensure that I remember where the wild things are, to make sure they aren't terribly buried next spring.

Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

I also like mulching with a mower set to cut at the highest setting. Some areas still have leaves piled too high by the end of Winter but when Spring approaches, I can't help but scratch around looking for the first sign of emergence of new shoots. I am surprised sometimes by the amount of mulch an ephemeral will push through and figure they might suffer more from my impatient uncovering and disturbance of tender shoots. Fortunately we've had a great Spring so far and (almost) everything seems to be back. What an exciting time of year!

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