Posts Tagged ‘oak leaves’


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,


First Gardening Tasks of 2012

January 4, 2012

It’s time to take off the party hats and toss the noise blowers and streamers, and focus on the garden. If I heed my own suggestions, and follow through with the plans below, come springtime it will be party time again–outdoors in sunshine. Here’s what I hope to accomplish this month.

Outdoors:  Now that the ancient oak tree in the perennial garden is naked, I will rake the leafy garments from beneath its giant canopy. The leaves will go in the chicken pasture for mulch and weed control. I experimented with this last year and there were fewer weeds, by half.

Edging my back lawn is a row of thirty-year-old eucalyptus trees, infected with redgum lerp psyllid (Glycaspis brimblecombei). With the exception of white bead-like dots (Hemispherical caps or ‘lerps’ housing nymphs) on the foliage and scattered about the lawn like hail during spring and summer, the trees remain healthy. However, eucalyptus trees are messy, especially during a storm when leaves and branches fly across the yard for ‘you-know-who’ to gather. My husband and I are tired of the clean up and the white chickenpox foliage and grasses so we will be removing most of eucalypti.

Once removed, instead of hauling off debris throughout the year and viewing a wall of westerly trees, we will have less work, more time, and a stunning vista of rolling hills and raging sunsets.

Indoors:  I plan to review last spring’s notes of tasty, prolific, and trouble-free vegetable varieties over unsuccessful ones, mapping out a crop design, as it’s time to rotate them. I’ll sort through seed packets for planting and expiration dates, earmark seed catalogs, and read my January tasks for jobs that I may have forgotten. I’m always forgetting something. If it’s rainy or all my work is complete, I’ll read The Backyard Beekeepers or attend a local event or workshop. If I heed my own suggestions and don’t hibernate like a bear, January will be a busy but productive month.

What do you plan to do first this year in the garden, anything new?


Overrun with Autumn Leaves

October 5, 2010

Silver maple leaves litter my driveway with golden hues and playful piles, a pretty sight this time of year. The leaves in the perennial garden aren’t as appealing. Brown, dull oak and yellow locust leaves are caught in every inch of every shrub, vine, groundcover, annual, and the soil.

The trees are undressing faster than I have time to gather their discarded clothing. Until last weekend, my rake hadn’t slipped across the beds in weeks. The landscape (and my life) felt unmanageable. I couldn’t stand the unkempt grounds any longer. Another week and the garden would be such a mess a crew would have to be hired. That’s not in my budget. Therefore, I shifted priorities and spent some time in the garden. First on the agenda was the entrance. 

It’s been several years since I first bought my first flat of Chrysanthemums (paludosum) for cool season color. Every year since, when summer’s heat skyrockets, the chrysanthemums dry up and spill seeds like sugar. Then when fall returns the seeds germinate between the flagstones. Once they reach transplanting size, I relocate them. This year there was enough to fill the beds edging the entrance and three areas in the garden. FREE seasonal flowers. I call that nature’s blessings.

Second on the garden agenda, were the leaves, millions-and-millions of leaves. The job of raking (and some trimming) turned into a two-day effort. Fortunately, my husband helped with the bagging. He’s amazing. Then, at the end of the day, wind dispensed its humor across the grounds. Soft laughter blew through the branches and tilting shadows as millions-and-millions of leaves fluttered downward onto my clean garden floor.

The landscape still feels unmanageable. But I feel better for the effort.

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