Fall Yard Work

Fall Yard Work

Master Gardener Scoop, November 15, 2017

By Majo Bates,
Master Gardener

I love to work in my yard in the fall to get things cleaned up so things are ready for planting and grooming next spring. My husband and I try to do this together which makes things easier and it is also an enjoyable time together.

Honestly, he has done most of the fall clean up this year. I am looking forward to retirement so I can devote more time to my yard, being a Master Gardener and many other interests I have.

I don’t like to rake leaves with my sore knee so most of the time Rodney mulches them with our mower. If you have a bag attachment, it helps to collect the mulched leaves to make it easier to spread the mulched leaves around shrubs, roses, or to pour into your compost pile.

If you enjoy raking leaves, pace yourself. It is quite a workout when we are not used to it. It is almost as hard on our bodies as shoveling snow. So limit raking to a couple of hours at a time.

I find IF we must rake it is best to start in the outer corner of the yard and rake in a straight line or rake from the outer corner inward making a pile. Try to make several piles all through the yard, instead of one large pile. This makes picking up the leaves easier. I like to make as much compost/mulch out of them as possible. I will usually, when my knee is not hurting, rake a few leaves over my garden beds or add them to our compost pile. If you are still mowing your lawn it’s nice to add grass clippings also. Adding some fertilizer or manure will help to speed the decaying or decomposition of the leaves.

I know many folks who like to burn leaves. My lungs have a hard time with being around burning leaves. I really don’t see the benefit. It is just so much better for our environment to compost or use leaves as mulch.

When our boys were home we tried to make the fall clean up a family affair. We always ended up jumping in the leaves and having a lot of fun. I miss those days so much. I think I should recruit my grandsons to help with this and make some good memories. If you do not have children or grands, try recruiting some children from your neighborhood, church family, or friends. Offer cookies and milk or hot chocolate while having a glorious fun time.

While cleaning up your yard this is a time to also dump all of those unsightly potted plants. Make some time to clean out those pots well and store them in a dry place. It won’t be long and the frost will kill everything potted. So, just grin and bare it —- clean up before it is too cold to enjoy it.

Now all is clean so decorate for fall. It is a lot of fun and by the time this gets published you can be decorating for Christmas. Makes thing easier in a clean yard and clean yard makes for a good place to decorate.

A new Master Gardener Program through the U of I Extension will be offered January 23, 2018 – April 3, 2018; which includes residents or landowners in Bond, Clinton, Jefferson, Marion and Washington counties. If interested please call 618-526-4551. Someone will be able to direct you and answer your questions.

The schedule follows with classes January and February in Breese and March through April in Salem:

January 23: Orientation and Botany

January 30: Insects

February 6: Vegetables

February 13: Soils

February 20: Wildlife and Organic Gardening and Composting

February 27: Lawns

March 6: Diseases and Diagnosis

March 13: Trees, Shrubs and Vines

March 20: Annuals/Perennials

March 27: Fruits

April 3: Integrated Pest Management and Graduation

Reservations should be made before January 12.

Enjoy your garden this fall and winter.