December arrives and leaf fall should be complete. Now is the time to clear the decaying remains from the lawns and corners of the garden. An area often neglected are the hedge tops. Where you have clipped these to give a flat top, fallen leaves will settle down and over time with light and air circulation impeded a slow patchy death occurs to the evergreen species. In this image a wide, flat topped Yew hedge has collected Alnus and Poplar leaves. Much larger than the Yew foliage these have settled on; if not dispersed the appearance of the whole hedge deteriorates. On a dry day either brush them off by swathing your outstretched arm across the hedge top, moving it backwards and forwards drawing the leaves off the Yew top. Alternatively use a broom handle across the hedge in the same motion. Where this is a long-term problem, allow the hedge to grow and shape to a ridge point at the top. Dropping leaves from surrounding trees are then naturally shed to the ground. Add all to the compost heap, turning through the year the resultant leaf mould is a valuable resource to mulch surface rooting plants, returning organic matter to the soil.