Tag Archive for Raking Leaves

Happy Thanksgiving to All

This was the view of autumn leaves from my deck this year. They were so beautiful, but now a mountain of fallen leaves are in need of raking.

This was the view of autumn leaves from my deck this year. They were so beautiful! Now I have a lot of raking in my future.

Now that the mums have finished blooming, I have filled in the pots with boxwood trimmings from my yard. They make beautiful "plants" all winter long.

Now that the mums have finished blooming, I have filled in the pots with boxwood trimmings from my yard. They make beautiful “plants” all winter long.

I’m finishing the last of the winterizing and want to share a few tips that will add polish to the holiday curb appeal, and make the perfect backdrop for seasonal decorations. These will make a big difference for just a weekend’s worth of effort. And as an added bonus, it’s also a great way to work off some of that turkey with all the trimmings that we love so much!

First up is finishing the leaf raking and weed removal. Reach in and pick out all the leaves that have gotten stuck in the bushes and then do a final pass in the mulched areas of the garden and your lawn. This alone will make a huge difference in the appearance, but we aren’t going to stop there! Next, give the mulch a rake to loosen it up, and add extra if needed. Winter mulch tip: As you are stirring up the mulch, make sure to leave a space of a few inches between the mulch and the wall of your home. This will discourage the unwanted “guests” (mice!) from burrowing there.

Fill in gaps in the garden by creating "instant plants," just push small branches into the soil- simple as that.

Fill in gaps in the garden by creating “instant plants,” just push small branches into the soil. Simple as that!

Here is a row of "instant juniper" plants, where I removed the summer annuals. You'd never know they aren't actually growing!

Here is a row of “instant juniper” plants, where I removed the summer annuals. You’d never know they aren’t actually growing!

Perfect time of the year to give the clay pots a good cleaning before storing them away for the winter months.

Perfect time of the year to give the clay pots a good cleaning before storing them away for the winter months.

Not all of the "instant" plants are used outside- the extra ivy is in a bucket of water and will root over the winter. Ivy is a really good air filter indoors, so I love to have some inside!

Not all of the “instant” plants are used outside. This extra ivy is in a bucket of water and will root over the winter. Ivy is also a good air filter, so I love to have some inside!

Now that you have pulled out the spent summer flowers and have areas that might be looking a bit too spare, here’s one of my favorite tricks of the trade: I trim the bushes in the yard and use those trimmings to create “instant plants.” Just take the branches and push them into the soil about 6 to 8 inches. I use about a dozen small branches to create each “plant.” On either side of the driveway where I grow vinca in the summer, there are now juniper. They look great, you’d never know they weren’t actually growing. I also do this in the pots and window boxes to create small boxwood “plants.” This trick lasts for months, usually into February, and since I trimmed the branches from my own yard, its free!

Speaking of planters and pots, this is the perfect time to give the clay pots a scrub and dry them in the sun before putting them away for the winter months. I like to use a scrub brush or a kitchen scrubbie with regular dish soap for this job. They easily get rid of the grime on the pots and make quick work of the job. Find a good place for winter storage where they won’t freeze. The clay can be very susceptible to cracking apart when it freezes. The same scrub is perfect for all the yard tools as well. A tip for the shovels and rakes: Once they have been cleaned, a light coating of cooking oil or spray will help guard against rust over the winter.

The final crowning jewel to get your home ready is clean windows. Now that your yard looks so nice you will want to have fresh, sparkling windows to view all your hard work!

Enjoy!

Time for a nice hot cider…

It’s Autumn – What to Do with All the Leaves!

Gourds by the front door -- it must be Autumn!

Autumn is here, and with it an abundance of fallen leaves. There are always questions as to what to do with them all — rake, mulch, compost, or ignore. There are many options. I will help you figure out what is best for your yard.

If we are talking about the leaves which fall on the grass, it is my opinion that it is best to collect them. When they are left on the lawn, they can compact and mold can soon become a problem. If they are mulched into the lawn with a mulching mower, they can be too acidic and wreck the delicate PH balance that is so important to a beautiful healthy lawn. Also — a little known fact — they will not decompose properly and will become a thatch problem, once the overnight temperatures are below 55 degrees.

You will notice that these crepe myrtle leaves have spots. This is common on many trees as the leaves lose their chlorophyll. Do not apply a fungicide; when new leaves emerge in the spring they will be all green.

 

One of the easiest, back-friendly ways of collecting leaves is to bag them with the mower.  Just be sure to empty the bag frequently, as it will fill quickly! This works well if your leaves are less than an inch thick on the lawn. If they are thicker than that, your best option is raking or using a leaf blower. My personal favorite style of rake is the really wide plastic sweep with a padded handle so you do not get blisters on your hands.

 

My favorite style of leaf rake. This one has a very wide sweep and a padded handle. It lasts forever, too! This one is 20 years old.

I also like using a mower to collect the leaves, because it starts the composting process by chopping the leaves up into small pieces. If you have the space in your yard for a compost bin, this is the perfect time to start one!  Just layer in brown (fallen leaves), then green (grass clippings). When you have a few minutes give it a stir with a garden fork, just a few times over the winter should do it. By spring you will have a wonderful amendment to stir into your flowerbeds or as a top dressing around bushes.

The only place it is best to ignore the fallen leaves is in a wooded setting where there is no grass. They will provide a layer of warmth to the tree roots over the winter. As they decompose, they will be the perfect PH for their setting, because they are falling onto the soil below the tree where they came from. Thank you, Mother Nature!

One of the most beautiful flowers of Autumn is the Chrysanthemum. It is best to hand pick the leaves out of flower bushes, their delicate branches can break easily.

I know it is a common practice to use a blower in the garden beds; please do not do this. It is like putting your bushes through a hurricane with the force of the wind the blowers produce. Never a good thing! Even though it takes a bit more time to pick the leaves out, or rake them out, it’s worth it for the health of your plants.

It is so nice to get out into the fresh Autumn air. I like the chance to put the yard to rest for the winter to come. I hope you think so, too. Enjoy!