In mild winters, it’s common to see signs of new life in your garden quite early in the year - the lawn might be growing, albeit slowly, buds are appearing on the ends of branches, and some particularly hardy plants might be showing leaf growth.
Aside from new growth however, there’s a good chance your garden is looking worse for wear, with dead leaves, soggy moss, fallen twigs and branches and rotting stems. It’s tempting to grab the shovel, the rake, the bristle brush - even the brush cutter.
However, there are benefits to holding your nerve and leaving the clear-up for a few weeks longer.
Benefits of delaying the tidy-up
1. Nourish your garden’s ecosystem
Despite the cold temperatures, the dead plant matter that’s making your garden look wild has been slowly rotting over the last few months.
As plant matter rots and is broken down into simple components like nitrogen, phosphates and magnesium. These nutrients are released into the soil that will help feed your plants throughout the year.
Leaving garden detritus to decay is a natural and cost-effective way to improve the quality of your borders and flowerbeds.
However, if you sprayed last year’s plants with any kind of pesticide or inorganic treatment, do clean them up now and dispose of them at your local tip rather than onto your compost heap.
2. Protect and nurture wildlife
Dead matter is absolute gold for insects and other wildlife in your garden. Decomposition of plant matter is conducted mainly by organisms known as detrivores that also feed off it. Detrivores (also known as detritivores) include bacteria, plus insects like beetles, flies, woodlice, slugs, snails, millipedes, and earthworms.
While we might think of fungi and slime moulds as plants, they are also detrivores and help the decomposition process.
But, in short, allowing decomposition to occur in your garden supports a vast and complex ecosystem, feeding the organisms that improve the quality of our garden’s soil, that grows this year’s plants that decay and get broken down… the cycle of life.
Worryingly, more than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, and many other once-common animal and bird species are declining. Check out our article on eco-friendly lawn care, which goes into more detail.
When to start the clean-up?
Leave it for as long as you can, until the litter risks interfering with new growth. Depending on the weather, your clean-up could be in March or even April.
Cleaning up in February is risky because the weather could take an unexpected U-turn back into frost and even snow.
If the patio is a mess and you can’t bear it any longer, you could move leaf and other plant litter onto the flower beds, or even onto the compost heap. Bear in mind that some insects might have laid their eggs on the underside of leaves, so go gently.
Once you do feel it’s time to get going, you might want to start with hard areas like the patio and the driveway. A battery-powered bristle brush (a multi-tool attachment) is brilliant for these areas.
This bristle brush will effortlessly get rid of slippery green algae on thoroughfares, as well as ingrained dirt and moss where you don’t want it - all without the need for chemicals and, being battery-powered, without breaking a sweat.
If you’ve got a lot of dead undergrowth, a battery operated brush cutter is your new best friend. Our multi-tool brush cutter attachment has an efficient three-sided blade and a 30cm cutting width.
Our 38cm brush cutter is suitable for larger domestic gardens, and we also have a commercial range of combined line trimmers and brush cutters with interchangeable heads.