As Autumn is making its presence known the trees are finally giving up their leaves for the year.
As the foliage changes colour, and the leaves flutter to the ground like snow, our trees are putting on one of nature's most beautiful visual displays.
But for keen gardeners and parents enthusiastic about outdoor play, leaves can be a scourge.
To help motivate you to clear up nature's litter, here are five safety threats posed by leaves you've never even considered.
1. Slippery When Wet
Once coated with rain, wet leaves tend to adhere to the hard surfaces creating a slick coating to footpaths and driveways. This is a slipping hazard for anyone who might walk over them, but for young children who tend to run everywhere, they are even more dangerous. They can also cause bike riders to fall if ridden over. Leaves are much easier to sweep away when they are dry, so don't put off until tomorrow what you could do today. If it's a fine, dry, autumnal day, seize the opportunity and sweep those leaves away.
2. Loss Of Grip
Leaves don't only accumulate on the ground. They can blow against climbing frames, and will stick if the frame is wet, especially on metal equipment. They can also gather on the rungs of ladders. Children using play equipment covered with leaves are at risk of losing their footing or grip and falling. A quick way to remove wet leaves from play equipment is using a stiff brush, they type that usually comes with a dust pan.
3. Blocked Drains And Gutters
When gutters become blocked with leaves and debris, rainwater bubbles over and falls to the ground, instead of being directed to the down pipe. This can flood the garden and cause damp patches to the brickwork of the house. If a hard surface, such as a patio, is wet much of the time due to this overflow, a film of green algae can develop on the surface, which is extremely slippery and dangerous to walk on.
If you disregard a pile of leaves for long enough it will eventually rot down into a mulch. If you a pile of leaves accumulates against a piece of wood, the same moisture and fungus that breaks down the leaves will begin to attack the wood. Our wooden climbing frames are built to withstand the British weather, but they will not enjoy being coated with rotting leaves. Keep the legs of wooden climbing frames, swing sets and slides clear of debris. This will allow air to circulate and discourage wet rot from attacking the wood.
5. Creepy Crawlies
None of the creepy crawlies that make fallen leaves their home are likely to be dangerous. If you enjoy bug hunting, then using some fallen leaves to make a bug hotel can encourage so interesting species to come and stay in your garden. However, if you have a sheltered play space such as a playhouse, allowing a build up of leaves inside will encourage mini beasts to make the space their home, and may deter your children from playing inside. Unless you intended the playhouse to be a luxury home for insects, keep the interior free of leaves.
We have so many leaves to deal with here at Wicken, last year we put together this blog post for 101 things to do with leaves.