Raking Leaves – Clean up the garden before Christmas!

Raking Leaves – Have you done yours?  

Raking Leaves – Here at Garden Furniture Towers, we’ve got a bit more time on our hands now that the rattan furniture sale is but a distant memory.  Soon be time to gear up for Christmas, but in the meantime, there’s still the leaf situation outdoors and it’s a problem that’s growing all the time.   Time to take advantage of the lovely warmish and dry weekend, to get on top of the autumn leaves.

Raking Leaves After Autumn Leaf Fall

It’s been quite a mild autumn and we haven’t had too many strong winds.  As a result, we’re still waiting for about half the trees in the garden to shed their leaves.  The fruit trees, the cherry, pear and apple trees, have all dropped enormous amounts of leaves all over the lawn and the horse chestnut and oak are nearly bare now.  The majestic ash tree has yet to succumb but the goat’s beard, which seems to drop every leaf within the space of about one day, has dumped its load this week.  That if nothing else is a major signifier that it is time to tackle the fallen leaves.

Raking Leaves Keeps You Fit

Raking leaves is surprisingly energetic and I’d defy anyone not to work up a real sweat doing it.  The collected leaves are also remarkably heavy to transport – be it in a wheelbarrow or black plastic sack.  Use a garden rake, a rotary mower which has the advantage of chopping up the leaves as you go as well as collecting them along the way, or a purpose made electric leaf blower – the most fun, obviously.  The electric leaf blower has the added advantage in getting all the leaves out from under the patio table with very little effort!

Raking Leaves – Leafmould

The wonderful thing about all this labour, is that fallen leaves provide the garden with wonderful organic matter if returned to the soil in due course.  The trick is to get them to rot down quickly to produce that heavenly substance – leaf mould.  Well rotted leaf mould can be used as an excellent  seed-sowing compost or potting compost if mixed with grit or sharp sand.  If your leaf mould hasn’t rotted down enough for this purpose (it might take 2 years), it is still a wonderful mulch for the beds and borders.

Raking Leaves – How to Make Your Own

Traditionally, it is suggested that you either pen the leaves in a wire enclosure made from chicken wire or some such material or you bag them up.  If you are collecting larger leaves (such as horse chestnut, sycamore, walnut or sweet chestnut) that take a while to rot down, one suggestion is to mow over them before you collect them up, to chop the leaves into smaller pieces which are going to degrade more quickly.

If you have a normal size garden and a normal amount of leaves to deal with, the best solution is probably to put them into black plastic bin bags, with a little water and some ventilation.  If you have leaves such as oak or beech, they’ll rot down very quickly with excellent results.  This year, we’re trying an experiment by chucking them straight onto the compost heap but we have the advantage of a ready source of pony manure stuffed with worms which should help everything break down quickly.

Raking Leaves – Evergreens

Evergreen leaves such as holly and cherry laurel are better not added to the leaf mould pile but rather but on the compost heap.  This is because they decay at a slower rate but since they drop leaves all year round, rather than dramatically in autumn, you probably won’t be tempted anyway.

If you have pine needles, collect them separately.  They will produce a much more acidic leaf mould which your azaleas and rhododendrons, or blueberries,  will love.  I always leave the branches of my Christmas fir scattered among the rhodies for the very same reason.

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