Fall is not my favourite time of year, in fact it is probably my least favourite season here in Canada. (Almost) everything in my gardens is dying off and there is a distinct chill in the air hinting at the winter weather that is lurking around the corner. There are a (measly) few things however that I do like about the season. On my list of the best things about fall are…
warm, fuzzy sweaters
boots, especially the little, lightweight ones (booties) that go with every outfit
glorious splashes of orange, yellow and red provided by the leaves in the otherwise drab landscape
the roses in the gardens that just don’t want to give it up
When all the pretty leaves fall from the trees this fall, instead of bagging them to put out on garbage day, use them in your garden as free mulch. Most leaves, with the exception of oak leaves, break down easily over the winter. They add nutrients and humus to the soil in your gardens.
If you do not have a leaf mulcher like I do, you can break (mulch) the leaves up by running them over with your lawn mower while they are still on your lawn. Then rake the debris onto your garden between the plants. Your soil and plants will love it.
On a recent trip along the 401 between Ottawa and Kingston in Eastern Ontario, I could not help but notice the toll that the drought conditions have taken on the trees. Usually beautiful, lush green against the magnificent limestone rock cuts, many of the deciduous trees are currently a toasted, brown color. The rocks absorb the heat from the sun making the high temperatures that much more dangerous for the trees. The rocky landscape is not able to retain the limited moisture we have had from rain…
Even though this was mid-August, it looked more like October when the leaves have changed color and are about to fall. Although we have had more rain this past week, I don’t think these poor trees will recover.
Fallen leaves make great mulch and compost for your garden, protecting your perennials as well as improving the condition of your garden soil. Instead of raking the leaves up and taking them to the curb in lawn waste bags, consider using them to your advantage this fall.
If they are small leaves, simply rake or blow them into your garden around your perennials and shrubs, taking care not to bury the smaller plants. If the leaves are large, run them over with your lawn mower to shred them before adding them to your garden. Oak leaves especially should be shredded, as they are slow to decompose. You may have to spray the leaves with your hose once they are in the garden to keep them from blowing back onto your lawn.
In the garden, worms from the soil will draw the decomposing leaves into the soil, improving the condition of your soil, which in turn benefits your plants. Next spring you can bury the portions of leaves that have not decomposed in the garden, and marvel at how rich your soil is.
The leaves in the garden will also protect your perennials and shrubs, like a warm blanket, from the freezing and thawing cycles that do the most damage to garden plants. Roses especially benefit from a blanket of leaves around their crowns at the soil level.
Leaves should not be left on the lawn however, as they will smother the grass, ruining even the healthiest lawn.
So, when you are out raking the leaves off of your lawn within the next few weeks, save your money by forgoing the lawn bags and turning the leaves into compost and mulch.
I snapped this picture of colorful leaves while out for a stroll recently, enjoying the beautiful fall weather we have been fortunate to have in Ottawa. It was too nice outside to wait inside the cold arena for our son’s hockey game to start…
I see another beautiful display of red fall leaves on the way to and from my son’s school these past few weeks here in Ottawa. These red maples are only a few years old, but already add an impressive splash of color along this street. I can only imagine how spectacular it will look ten years from now…