100 Day Challenge #90: As fall rolls around, leave your leaves!
We spoke with a friend of our’s a couple of weeks ago, who lives in Vermont. She said the days were starting to cool down, and the leaves were starting to make their annual display of autumn color before carpeting the forest floor. We're still at least a month away from falling leaves here in North Texas, but it’s never too soon to think about preparing your garden for the upcoming seasonal change.
Autumn is one of our favorite times of the year to garden. The temperatures start cooling off, and the plants often put out another flush of growth or flowers just before they settle into their winter hibernation. Soon we’ll see lots of piled-up leaves in our flower beds that have been placed there by the autumn winds. It’s nature’s way of wrapping your garden in a winter coat to keep your plants insulated and warm throughout the winter; it's so sad when we see our neighbors bag up all their leaves to be hauled away to the landfill.
The fallen leaves aren’t just keeping your plants protected, they’re also breaking down and adding much needed nutrients to the soil.
What’s more, fallen leaves are also creating homes for beneficial insects and little creatures that add to the biodiversity of your wildlife habitat, even if you're in the middle of a large city. If at all possible, leave your leaves around your perennials and shrubs until the spring sunshine and rising temperatures arrive. You’ll be amazed at all the growth you’ll find at the base of your plants, and how busy they've been over the winter!
We know everyone wants their yard to look neat and tidy, and leaves can sometimes be a bit messy. But give yourself the excuse of cutting down on your raking time and just remove the leaves out of your grass while leaving the ones around your shrubs and in your beds. Make sure to compost whatever leaves you do remove; they'll have time to break down over the winter, and you'll have some great compost to put in your flower beds just in time for the spring planting!