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When cutting down a conifer, should you get rid of all the needles that fall onto the ground or do they compost back into the ground.  For some reason my conifer has died, (been there some time) but not sure why, so am in the process of cutting it down but would like to know if I have to clear the ground afterwards

Alina W

It would be best to clear the ground, yes. The needles are quite acidic and take a long time to break down.

Best not to plant another conifer there either. Maybe plant clematis Montana to grow up it??

You don't say what type of conifer it was, how big it was or how long you have had it for.  As trees go, some conifers are relatively short-lived.  Alternatively, it may have died through disease, or through drought.  It's hard to say without more information.

If it was a Leylandii, personally I'd throw a party!  

If the needles are on a lawn or something like that, I'd definitely rake them up or hoover them up with a blower.  I might put them down elsewhere in the garden as a weed suppressant mulch though, especially if I had very alkaline soil (which I do).

christopher2 suggests growing a clematis Montana through the dead branches rather than cutting down & digging out the dead tree.  That's a good idea and would work well, if the shape is good, but thinking about some of the dead and dying conifers I've seen in my lifetime, personally I remain to be convinced.  Do you know of one you can show us in a photo, christopher2?

Hiya chapelgirl2. I guess I could take photo. I cut a Leylandii down a few years back for a friend and planted Montana Elizabeth over it. I cut it to about 2 metres and left spurs of old branches and then circled it with clematis trellis. It looks superb in spring and virtually evergreen too. I also suggested to a neighbour she used Montana to grow up a Leylandii she had and it too looks great. It doesn't matter what shape the conifer is because you only need it's height

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