Leave the Leaves

By Kathy Figel

In Beverly/Morgan Park we are treated to several weeks of fall color, especially this year. My preference with leaves would be to capture them on a canvas with rich oil paints on a perfect autumn day.

Then came mid-October’s gusts followed by heavy, constant rain stripping many trees that otherwise shed closer to Halloween.

But I digress. Like you, I am resigned to figuring out what to do with all those leaves. Luckily, I can provide you with a simple list.

Easy Ways to Leave the Leaves

1. Work the leaves into the ground cover where they can help insulate the ground to prevent damage from temperature fluctuations. The leaves will decompose, which benefits the soil.

2. Mow the grass and dry leaves without the catcher attached to the lawn mower. Once or twice in November will be enough to spread nutrients around your lawn.

3. Move all plants in containers to a secluded corner spot. Pile a generous amount of full leaves on top of plants in pots to shield them from bitter temperatures, winds and ice. You may be able to save these potted plants for next year.

4. Treat your perennials and trees to mowed leaves or leave a pile using them as mulch in the spring to keep down unwanted weeds and grass around trees. You’ll save money and time by not having to mulch or weed next summer.

5. Securing the roots of your perennials with leaves deter uprooting after sudden snowstorms and ice-filled rains wreak havoc on them in February. In the spring, the leaves can be moved around a bit with a rake, but not totally taken off too early. Removing leaves too early can encourage the plants to grow too quickly.

6. Late falling leaves help accelerate the composting process, so pile them on. Turning them to soil is a great way to use those autumn leaves.

7. Start a new garden bed. Without much labor, you can create a new bed over a patch of lawn without cutting into the cold ground. Lay down pieces of cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, and cover with leaves then water. This is an easy way to eliminate grass and have a brand new planting area in the spring.

9. Make a path. You’d be surprised by how many leaves you can use up this way. The leaves will break down, then in the spring you can decide if you still want your new pass through.

If you’ve read this far, you really do love the environment, and I am going to ask you to take your commitment even farther. I am singing to the choir but here goes: If you have a lawn service, ask them not to blow the leaves with a gas-powered blower which pollutes the air and adds to the noise pollution we already have to deal with in the city. Rakes work fine.

On a lighter note, if you’d like more ideas on composting feel free to connect with me, and make a donation to @ednawhitecommunitygarden, our community garden.

See you at Women’s Fest, Nov. 5 @BlueIslandBeerCo.



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