Succulents drowning in sea of leaves

Friday afternoon…

The wind has been blowing like crazy for the last two days, knocking the leaves off trees that had still been hanging on to them. As is always the case, the bulk of our neighbor’s leaves ended up in our yard, specifically on the newly renovated driveway succulent bed.

It may not look that bad in this photo…


…but if you take a closer look…


…you’ll see how many leaves there really are.


I had just cleaned up this bed so what you see are all new leaves.




My Agave montana is almost completely buried:


My Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’, planted on a mound, isn’t faring much better:


In fact, the mound has all but disappeared.


I think the leaves are actually quite beautiful, but they do need to be removed before it rains again because I don’t want these succulents to stay wet longer than they have to.


Where do all the leaves come from? Here’s the culprit: a large sycamore (probably Platanus × acerifolia) in our neighbor’s front yard.


Saturday morning…

The wind has stopped. Time to spring into action!

I have a conflicted relationship with leaf blowers (noisy, annoying and overused), but there’s nothing quite like it when it comes to leaf removal. Here’s the bed after half an hour of targeted blowing, with the leaves neatly added to the pile you saw in the previous photo:


My lovelies can breathe again!


And my prized agaves, including Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’…


…and Agave montana are free again.


Now we need a week of warm weather to dry out the soil a bit. Fortunately, next week looks sunny with daytime highs in the low 60s.


  1. Oy, don't get me started on leaf blowers. I admit though, I use a Shop-Vac to clean up my succulents in spring . Everything else is brooms and rakes. Clarington Forge makes a rubber tined rake that might be a good solution for easily damaged plants like succulents. I might have to give it a try and report back .

    1. I used a Shop-Vac on some of the plants in the driveway bed but I couldn't get to the center area so I got out the leaf blower.

      That rubber-tined rake sound awesome! I'll have to look for it.

  2. Oh how I feel your pain. Our neighbors dogwood leaves all end up in our front garden, most of then in and around succulents. As if the poor things don't already have a hard life in rain soaked Portland!

    1. I suspect in Portland you have to be even more on top of it than I do.

  3. OK this may sound weird but I do this every year. I gather up the neighbors leaves and put them on my succulent beds. Then when it is really cold I top with frost cloth. The leaves help keep them warm. In the spring I remove the leaves. They are happy.

    1. Candy, that sounds intriguing. I need to get more info from you. Do you make sure the leaves are dry when you pile them on and stay dry during the winter?

  4. On the bright side, the brown tones of the leaves really made the blues and greens of the succulents pop. You're such a good plant dad! I've been pulling leaves off my Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’ by hand because there aren't that many and It had been wet here for a while. Fingers crossed that it can make it through our soggy winter.

    1. I agree, the agaves poking out of the pile of leaves looked cool. Not sure they would have agreed though!

  5. Eek! We have the same tree I think that does that to our garden year in year out. Not so good for succulents but you leaf blower has cleared it all away very nicely. We love our leaf blower, helps us make our garden extra tidy.

    1. Your garden always looks tidy on your blog. That's a testament to the hard work you do behind the scenes.

  6. I do like the fall color leaves with your succulents Gerhard. They are not only beautiful but as Candy said, they help protect the plants when frost comes. I too try to leave much of fall leaves on the ground but keep an eye to make sure that when it rains, nothing is accumulated on the succulent leaves.

    1. I do the same for perennials but I do keep the leaves away from my suculents. The chance of rot is just too high. But maybe I'm being too obsessive about this?


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