Monday, November 25, 2013

What To Do With All Those Leaves

I have lots of leaves!
It is that time of year when the leaves are dropping faster than I can clean them up. In my garden, I have huge mature trees and as you can see from the picture above, lots of trees to clean up after. For me, leaf clean up starts in late August and continues till the week of Christmas. The buckeye trees are first to leaf out in the spring and the first to drop their leaves. Then the cottonwood trees and sycamore trees start dropping their leaves, followed by other trees and shrubs.


A cottonwood leaf and a large sycamore leaf
The sycamore trees and cottonwood trees are the worse leaves to clean up. The sycamore leaves are huge and I have lots of them, which is why my gardens are named "Sycamore Gardens". The cottonwood leaves are very thick and leathery and if I don't clean them up quickly, they mat down very easily smothering out my perennials. 

Chopped up leaf mulch
To clean up and rake my leaves would cost a fortune in leaf bags and I would never get the task done. Over the years, I have found a very easy way to clean up the gardens and save myself from raking leaves. I have a backpack leaf blower and I blow the leaves out of the garden beds and into the grass areas. I then run a lawn tractor with mulching blades over the leaves till they are cut up. This process goes on for several months tell all the leaves are all down and chopped up.

A fine leaf mulch all over the gardens
After all the leaves are down and chopped, which is in December, I use the leaf blower to blow some of this chopped leaf mulch back into the garden beds. With the leaf mulch in the garden beds and on the grass areas, it slowly starts to break down into the soil. When the grass starts to grow in the spring the leaf mulch disappears into the soil with the help of lots of earthworms. 

I have around 600 hostas in my garden. Cutting and cleaning them up takes forever. Since leaf clean up takes a long time, I can clean up the remains of my frost damaged hosta leaves by blowing them from the beds and chopping them up at the same time with the tree leaves. If you clean up your hostas in this manner, make sure that you do not have diseased hostas or you will spread the disease around the garden. 

This is the best way for me to clean up my gardens. I make lots of leaf mulch that improves my soil, feeds the earthworms, keeps down the weeds and it makes for a healthy beautiful garden. By summer all the leaf mulch has disappeared into the soil that will be fed again in the fall with more leaf mulch.

How do you clean up your leaves? Leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.


Happy Gardening!

Debbie

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