Hey there all! It’s Fall!
And so, it begins: the attack, the onslaught, the invasion of. . . LEAVES! So many leaves! We completely understand that yard cleanup is no one’s favorite thing to undertake. But we hope we can give you a new appreciation for these beautiful, though sometimes pesky, gifts given by the trees every year around here. Sure, you could do like you always do and go to home depot for some leaf bags, gather them all up, and tediously stuff them into the bags so you can drag them to the curb for pickup. Or, if you choose, this year could be different! Read on if you are interested in some new ideas about how to make your leaves disappear!
Did you know that one of the most useful gardening resources lays right at your feet free of charge every fall season? Leaves are a great tool to use for improving the health of your yard and garden. Here are some things you can do with them. . .
1. Use a mower and leave the leaves on the grass.
Pun intended, it’s in the name! A lot of times it is best for the yard if you leave the leaves there, but they need to be mulched or ground up first. This ensures that they won’t create a layer that is too thick and dense that it kills the grass instead of nourishes it. Just use whatever mower you have, raise the deck to its highest setting, and go over the leaves a few times. Even thick layers of leaves should not be a problem. Go slow on a riding mower, or just lift the front end of a push mower when needed. This is the best way to deal with the leaves with the least amount of effort on your part.
2. Mulch your perennials
Most store-bought mulches are okay to use around flowers, but not safe for vegetable plants. A good and FREE way to make healthy mulch for your veggie garden is to make it from leaves! Stick a collection bag on your mower and dump the shredded contents into your garden. As the leaves compost they will provide helpful nutrients for the soil as well as temperature management and water retention. This is very important for perennials during the colder months. Using leaves for mulch will provide protection and help ensure they are healthy and ready to come back when spring comes.
3. Keep until Spring
Your perennials aren’t the only plants that will benefit from a little leafy love. Save a couple bags of that mulch for yard maintenance and keep it somewhere dry until the Spring when you can put it around all your annual veggies to give them a boost! Add newspaper under that layer of leaves for even better results, especially in your tomato patch!
4. Make leaf mold
Sounds gross, right? What even is leaf mold? It is a compost made completely of leaves. Once broken down, this leaf compost becomes a great agent for water retention, soil reconstruction, and soil improvement in your garden. After years and years of plants stripping the nutrients and changing the structure of the soil, it becomes very important to give it some maintenance. Use leaf mold to the greatest advantage by mixing it into the soil or using it in containers!
It only takes about a three-step process to make this compost. Start by choosing where and how you will compost the leaves. First, determine if you will use a round wire bin (about 3’ by 3’) and pile the leaves in there, pile the leaves somewhere in an unused corner of your yard, or use a large bag to store them in. In any case, the leaves need to be wet down and checked and wet occasionally to ensure they stay wet so they can break down and, well, mold! If left completely alone, this compost will take up to a year to be ready to use.
To speed things up, consider chopping the leaves first, mixing up the leaves every couple of weeks in their designated composting area, and covering your pile or bin of leaves with a tarp to help with moisture management.
Being able to enjoy the beautiful colors of the changing leaves around here is one of the greatest things about fall! But the cleanup it requires is not so glamorous. Enjoy them while they last, then put them to work before they out stay their welcome and kill your grass!
In addition, don’t put off fence repairs before the winter months. Give us a call as soon as possible and get it done before the bad weather hits! 301-663-4000
Walliser, J. Savy Gardening. Feeding Your Garden Soil: 12 Creative ways to use Fall Leaves. Retrieved from https://savvygardening.com/12-creative-ways-to-use-your-fall-leaves/
Vanderlinden, C. The Spruce. Making and Using Leaf Mold. 11/03/2018. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/making-and-using-leaf-mold-2539475