September 17, 2014

Put Those Gorgeous Fall Leaves to Work!

We are finally seeing some color change and the leaves are falling!

fall trees

My Neighbor’s Beautiful Trees

I enjoy seeing the beautiful color of the leaves (fall is my very favorite season), but more than that, falling leaves mean free mulch for me!

golden leaves

The afternoons have been pretty gorgeous even though we’ve had our first freeze warnings this week.

oak trees in fall

So I’ve been enjoying being outside tidying up my garden a bit. Which means trimming trees and roses and the start of chopping up the leaves with my lawnmower. I’ll be doing this for at least a few more weeks.

lawnmower

I use the chopped  leaves to mulch  some of my flower beds and the raised beds in my vegetable garden that I’m not using. This limits weed germination. Normally I’d have more beds to cover with leaf mulch, but this year I’m using all my beds but 2. You can work any leaves that haven’t decomposed into the soil in spring and use them as an organic  soil amendment. They don’t have many nutrients so I don’t use them as a fertilizer.

leaf mulch in raised bed

I don’t use leaves  under plants that do better with pine straw which is acidic & makes the soil acidic when it decomposes.

blueberries mulched with pinestraw

Last Summer’s Blueberries Mulched With Pinestraw

So acid-loving plants like my blueberry bushes (you can see the pine straw underneath the leaves), hydrangeas,  azaleas, and gardenias get pine straw. Fortunately pine straw is cheap in the South and you get good coverage for a bale. So it’s very economical.

river birch

I have mostly Maple, Pecan, Poplar, Crepe Myrtle, Bradford Pear & River Birch leaves to mulch.  Normally I have a mix of leaves to use as mulch since I have different trees all over. Oak is fine but takes a little longer to break down (as do Pecan). My neighbor shreds her Walnut leaves and says they are safe to compost or use as mulch. Just do a quick Google search if you are uncertain about whether or not your leaves are safe to use as mulch or compost. I think Eucalyptus can be composted but not shredded and used  as mulch for example.

Besides mulching my empty raised beds I had to water the veggies I have growing. Although, I have a separate post coming on my fall/winter garden,  I have to show you my peppers now!

bell peppers growing under row covers

I’m experimenting with some summer vegetables to see how long I can keep them producing under the row covers we installed.

green peppers under row covers

I’m so excited that I’m still picking bell peppers in November!! Anyway, I do have a post on my winter vegetable garden coming up but I had to share these with you!

So back to leaves :) …. don’t just bag them (unless you’re keeping them to use in your spring/summer compost), use them now as mulch!

 

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Comments

  1. I love using leaves for mulch, and when I had chickens I threw large bags of leaves into their outdoor run for them to pick through. The leaves worked wonders on deodorizing the run:>)

  2. Penny @ The Comforts of Home & Flea Market Makeovers says:

    Great tips Manuela!

  3. Your yard is so pretty with all its Fall color. Thanks for sharing the mulch and compost tips.
    My courtyard is full of hickory nut and oak tree leaves, but won’t be doing anything about them any time soon. I either reacted to a flu shot or another bug got me. :(
    Enjoy your weekend.

    • I stopped getting the flu shot about 6 years ago. I had a horrible reaction to the last one I got and was sick for a week!

      Feel better soon!

  4. All my trees are evergreen but the two huge berry trees in the middle of my back yard, they lose leaves all the time but are completely bare in winter,now it summer here so the shade they provide is very handy.
    Merle…….

  5. I wish I lived in a warmer area…leaves just now changing colors and falling and veggies still producing? Nice! Our trees here in northern IL are completely bare now. My hubby mows fallen leaves to use as mulch, too.

  6. Our trees are pretty much bare now, especially after the last of Sandy blew through for two days (we had the winds longer here than Stephanie did in New England!). I was in town today and noticed some trees still pretty, these were obviously more protected by buildings than the forest around us.

    Hubby has been running the mulching mower over our property a little at a time. It mulches the leaves back into the ground. Today he put other leaves on our raised beds and into compost piles.

    Living at the edge of a forest, we have plenty to go around. ;)

    • I’m sure you do have plenty of leaves!

      I still have trees with green leaves so I have at least through the middle of December before all my trees are bare.

      I often mow over the first bunch of leaves that fall and leave them the grass.