Clever Gardening Technique
Mow, Don't Rake Leaves
Want to make your life easier and help your soil at the same time? As long as they aren't in too thick a layer, chop up the leaves that land on your lawn with your mower rather than raking them up. The small pieces of leaves will sift down between the blades of grass, releasing nutrients and improving the soil as they decompose. A mulching mower works best, but any rotary mower with a sharp blade will get the job done. If you have too deep a layer of leaves for this technique, collect the chopped leaves in the mower's collection bag and mix two parts of leaves with one part grass clippings to make some great compost.
For many gardeners here in New England, our fall gardens are kind of an afterthought. We may plant some asters and buy some mums in bloom, but we don't make this season a focus of our gardening efforts. Fallscaping by Nancy Ondra and Stephanie Cohen (Storey Publishing, 2007, $22.95) may change that outlook. Filled with stunning photographs by garden photographer Rob Cardillo, just leafing through the pages will get your fall gardening blood running. But the book is also filled with all sorts of great advice from these two experienced garden writers on designing gardens that shine late in the season. Included is extensive information on fall gardening techniques, from planting bulbs in pots for spring bloom and preparing pots for winter to extending the season and handling garden debris. A Fall Garden Care Primer section takes you through garden tasks from early fall to early winter. Put the advice from these latter sections to use now, then spend the winter dreaming over the garden plans and photos. You'll be ready next spring to add some lovely "fallscaping" elements to your garden to keep it looking as good in autumn as it does in spring and summer.