Posts Tagged ‘Mulch’


Guess What Today Is!

May 30, 2014

May 30th is Water a Flower Day, an annual reminder that summer heat is fast approaching and our beautiful flowers (and plants and trees) will be thirstier than normal. They’ll love you even more if you mulch the flowerbeds and use moisture control potting soil to retain water and reduce watering.






Have a wonderful weekend!




Leaves, Leaves, And More Leaves: Part II

January 22, 2014

The rumbling mower zipped over the leaves and snatched them up with metal blades.

Dirt flew out; dust swirled around and glazed my face a coat of grubby brown.

This isn’t going to work, I said with a huff, a cough, and fluttered eyelids.

But I persisted on giving it a try, on completing the task at hand.

When the bag was full, I turned off the mower, removed the bag, and peered inside through raccoon eyes.

No surprise. It didn’t work. The leaves were whole, not broken down for swift decay.

I sighed then looked around at all the leaves, one trillion to be exact.

I should have known the old way is best:  A good rake and large leaf bags.

It beats the roar of a mower, dust swirls, and raccoon eyes.


Note:  All fun aside, it is possible to break down leaves with a mower, but you’ll have to run over them at least twice. (I didn’t have the patience to do this—too much dust.) Be sure to wear goggles and a face mask. You can try a chipper.

I DO recommend using broken-down leaves as mulch. It’s free. It’s good for the soil and mulching is especially important now that we are in a severe drought.

Since I have decided to pass on the dusty task, I will be adding four inches of commercial mulch where needed.  I am placing the oak leaves in the pasture along the outside of the garden fence to control the weeds.


Leaves, Leaves, and More Leaves

January 6, 2014


Many of you have read about the ancient oak in the center of my perennial garden, and how every August through January, millions of leaves (and acorns every ten years) drop like confetti. GIANT trees do this. I’ve had compost piles in the past, but I’m not good at maintaining them, however, our landfill has a wonderful recycle section for greens. So, I would rake, bag, and haul off a large trailer load. Then two years ago, I started dumping the leaves along the backside of the perennial garden to repurpose as a weed blanket.


This winter, partly out of pure laziness, I have left the latter two months of leaves in the perennial garden. Normally, I can’t stand the messy appearance. I like a neat and tidy landscape. But the leaf blanket “in” the garden has functioned well as mulch, kept most weeds at bay, and sealed in moisture—especially important since we are rain poor this year. The leaves are dry, brittle, and light. Once it does rain, they will become heavy (for a leaf) and stick to the soil making the layer underneath nearly impossible to rake. Good for the soil, bad for landscape beautification.


So here’s where I am taking ballots. Vote for #1 or #2:

  1. Do I keep the “leaf blanket” inside the garden, and then come spring rake up what I can and work the rest into the soil? (Nearest neighbors are 40 acres away, so this won’t offend them.)
  2. Do I clean up the unsightly appearance now?

If you don’t want to leave your vote here, under comments, send an email to me,


War on Weeds

March 12, 2012

Home gardeners wait all winter for spring, for tender shoots of green hues and rainbow-colored flower buds. Then beneath them, undesirable weeds appear indent on taking over the landscape. We hoe, dig, spray, perspire, and swear in our battle to kill them—to maintain a tidy landscape. Unfortunately, like a chronic habit they keep coming back. Nevertheless, there are other reasons to rid your yard of weeds.


  • Steal space, nutrients, water, and sunlight from crops.
  • Provide cover for pests and rodents.
  • Cause many allergens to people.
  • Serve as host for insects and overwintering diseases.

Before waging war against weeds, use tools that best suit your weeding preference, i.e., on your feet or on the earth with a hand tool. Select tools that fit your hand size and strength ability. If the tool is too big or heavy, the job will be harder than necessary.

Tool Care and Safety:

  • A good rule is to sharpen hoe blades every eight hours of use.
  • Sharpen the blade to a 45-degree angle with a file just enough to remove ragged portions of the blade.
  • Never leave the blade end down while working in the garden. One can easily step on the blade and send the handle flying toward the face. For the same reason, store garden hoes with blade-end facing up.

Weed Control:

  • Remove and properly dispose of weeds before they flower and go to seed. One head can contain thousands of seeds. Avoid putting weeds in a compost pile that does not remain hot (over 130 degrees F.) for several days. The seeds will not decompose.
  • Develop a regular weeding routine. Remove weeds weekly, if possible every time you see one.
  • Make sure the soil is moist (not soaking wet) one – two inches deep for easy weeding.
  • Annual weeds will die if cut at or below the soil line. Perennial weeds grow back if you don’t remove the taproot.
  • Disturb the soil as little as possible. Seeds are viable in the soil for hundreds of years waiting to germinate when the conditions are right. Cultivating the soil causes seeds to surface to the top.

 Number One Earth-Friendly Weed Control:

  • The best and easiest way to help eliminate as many weeds as possible is to use organic mulch, after you have removed all weeds. A thick layer of four – six inches will block out light required for germination of some seeds. The few weeds that do germinate easily come up—roots included—simply by using your fingers. Mulch helps retain moisture, is attractive, and environmentally friendly. (Note:  To help prevent moisture rot, disease, and insects from crawling up plants, Keep mulch three inches away from the base of tree and plants.)
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