If you decide to let nature take its course, letting leaves lie
brings benefits and some problems. Many of the benefits are
associated with your labor, or lack of it. The major non-labor
benefit is that when leaves collect in flower beds and around
shrubs, they provide a mulch for those plants. Problems generally
develop where deep piles of leaves may smother grass or harbor
diseases, causing large dead areas to deal with next spring. Of
course if you are the only resident in a neighborhood who doesn't
rake leaves, you may be talked about at many social functions this
Removing leaves is generally done by raking or bagging with
a mower attachment. This makes your lawn look neat, prevents
problems for lawns and gives you a workout if you are manually
raking. The main problems are the time, labor and disposal of the
leaves when they are piled.
Chopping leaves means reducing the size. Benefits include less
smothering, quicker breakdown and less labor. The main drawback
comes with deep piles that still should be removed because of
trouble in shredding and the resulting smothering of grass.
One thing to consider is the type of leaves. There is a huge
difference in oak leaves and silver maple leaves. It's difficult to
have smothering problems with oak leaves, while silver maple leaves
may smother with a very thin layer. Many green leaves were blown
down with recent winds. These green leaves will tend to smother more
than the dry, rigid types will.
What do you do with the leaves you've accumulated? There are
Many municipalities prohibit burning for the most part. Besides
the fire risk, the respiratory issues for affected people can be
life-threatening. Raking leaves into the street, unless requested by
the city for cleanup, usually results in clogging storm sewers.
Options remaining include composting, using as a mulch, tilling
into garden and bed areas, and hauling to a municipal landscape
recycling center. There may even be some private collection services
that will take bagged leaves to a recycling center.
Partial composting, and the subsequent use as mulch, is one of the best
solutions. Simply construct an enclosure at least 2 feet cubed, place leaves in
it, and cover the top with hardware cloth or wire laid on it and weighted down.
The resulting mulch may be used next spring on flower beds, gardens, around
trees and shrubs, or spread back on gardens or lawns. Before you use the mulch
around the house, read the note below.
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One thing to consider is removing the leaves from around the foundation of the
house. The decaying leaves provide a hiding place or food sources for nuisance
pests such as ladybugs and millipedes. Removal from directly around the house
may reduce the number of these insects making their way into your home.
If you are growing your own, make sure you watch your pumpkins
and squash as you harvest them. Here are some rules for selecting
Choose a pumpkin
with a stem, but never carry it by the stem. Pumpkins without a
stem will not last long.
Select a pumpkin
with a flat bottom so it will stand upright.
with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.
pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as
darker orange ones, but they will not keep as well.
Wash the pumpkin
with warm water and let it dry before carving. Use of a small
amount of dishwashing soap in the warm water may help extend the
life of the pumpkin.
To make the
pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to
carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.
only be done three days ahead of Halloween. After cutting, the
pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.
The use of a
candle in the pumpkin will also make it deteriorate rapidly.
University of Illinois Extension]