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What can I do with holly leaves?

Discussion in 'Trees' started by Clare G, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. Clare G

    Clare G Gardener

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    I have a handsome variegated holly tree (Handsworth New Silver) in my small garden. My neighbour has a plain green tree too, which overhangs our boundary fence. Every year around now cascades of old holly leaves fall onto my garden as new growth comes through.

    I have always assumed that these leaves with their waxy surface and prickly points wouldn't break down in my compost bins. So instead I bag them up and put them out with the rubbish - we don't have specific garden waste collections here, instead garden rubbish goes in with non-recyclables, and everything gets burnt and the energy re-used in a special facility somewhere down the Thames. Better than it going to landfill at least.

    However I just wondered whether any of you knowledgeable people could come up with a better, greener solution for me. Would the leaves in fact compost, given enough time? They must do so in nature - even in my garden I have found 'skeletonised' ones in neglected corners. And I have found that deciduous tree leaves, even big tough ones, break down quite well in my compost bins along with everything else, provided there aren't too many of them.

    The only practical suggestion for using holly leaves in the garden I've seen is to scatter them around prized plants to keep pests away. All well and good but what to do with the rest?

    All ideas appreciated - many thanks in advance for your help. :)
     
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    • HarmonyArb

      HarmonyArb Gardener

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      Hi Clare G

      The leaves would eventually break down, but they would take a long time and you wouldn't really want to be handling the compost or mulch without thick gloves on. You could try and speed up the decomposition progress by mashing up the leaves if you've got easy access to a garden shredder, or even by running over them with a lawnmower (although you then run the risk of finding prickles in your lawn later on).

      Pest deterrent is probably the best option if you don't want to dispose of in your usual way.
       
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      • Clare G

        Clare G Gardener

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        Thank you @HarmonyArb - that is very helpful. Given my space constraints here I think I 'll probably carry on disposing of them as I do now!
         
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        • Kandy

          Kandy Will be glad to see the sun again soon.....

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          @Clare G i would do as Harmony Arb has suggested and just dispose of them as they do take a long time to break down.I used to gather them up and compost them but when they dried out it got too painful to pick them up off of my borders even with thick gloves on,so I try to gather them up while they are green and they go straight into my green recycling bin along with rose prunings as they are a nightmare as well when they are brown and dried out:sad:
           
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          • Clare G

            Clare G Gardener

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            Thanks @Kandy. Yes I had noticed that they get more painfully prickly as they dry out - strange isn't it! Best to continue to bag them up and dispose of them I'm sure.
             
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            • Kandy

              Kandy Will be glad to see the sun again soon.....

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              Hi @Clare G yes they can be very painful with those sharp spines.I am lucky in a way because I recycle so much stuff over at our allotments then I can afford to dispose of the holly leaves.

              You will enjoy this forum as there are so many knowledgeable members on here so any other garden questions please feel free to ask about:smile:
               
            • rustyroots

              rustyroots Total Gardener

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              Not sure if you grow peas, but I push the branch end into the soil lay they over the top when I sow them, to deter mice and birds digging them up and eating them

              Rusty
               
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              • Zigs

                Zigs Naughty Ginger Admin Staff Member

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                They make a handy cushion stuffing to give to people you don't like :spinning:
                 
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