Q. I have several large leaf-dropping trees in the yard, along with a few newly planted – earlier this year – shrubs. I was told when purchasing them that I could use the leaves from my trees as a mulch to protect the shrubs at their base this dormant season. What do you think? E.M., Grants NM
A. I think that would be acceptable, with a few cautions I’d ask you to keep in mind. First, the leaves that come from the trees should be from healthy trees only.
If you are considering piling up leaves from, let’s say, a purple-leaf plum that has been suffering with a fungus, then NO, I’d recommend you not use diseased leaf matter as a mulch for your young shrubs.
Then I suggest that you water the shrubs as required through the dormant season. Just because their bases are mulched doesn’t mean they will not dry out. Moisture will still be a concern for you. As the weather allows, I’d suggest you fluff up the leaves you’ve gathered at the plant bases periodically, so they don’t mat and repel life-giving water.