First, of course, are the leaves. Leaves from most deciduous trees are one of the best natural sources of minerals for the compost pile. When burned, leaves supply only about 5% of their bulk weight as natural potash but the rest basically goes up in smoke.
When composted, more than 90% of the total bulk minerals available in the leaves Is retained in the composted soil. Obviously, composting is the efficient and effective thing to do.
It will save you money on fertilizers and soils and by not burning off the leaves you will be helping to do your part to give us all cleaner air.
The first push of wintery Antarctic air over the weekend signifies the need to complete autumn projects around the yard and garden before wet, windy, icy conditions make this all just too unpleasant.
Trimming and pruning are also important now to give that tidy look around section. Because growth rates have now slowed down to a crawl with the advent of colder days, anything trimmed now will stay trimmed for quite a while.
Thus, this is an excellent time to give hedges, topiaries, ornamental vines, and anything that is maintained to a particular shape at least a light prune and trim for winter. Easy does it, though! Just shape to tidy up.
Remember that growth rates are slowed so if you butcher something now you, and everyone else, will be looking at your mistake until spring!
The exceptions here are trees, shrubs and ornamentals that flower over the winter or early spring. These will be setting buds or even flowering now so wait to prune until after flowering or you’ll cut off the flowers!
Fruit, deciduous, and most evergreen trees can be pruned or trimmed now as well. Be sure to until the leaves have fallen from the tree to avoid drawing air into the flesh cut which can often kill back much more than was intended.
This pruning can be quite severe at this time of year with very little risk of damaging the tree. Most fruit trees and ornamentals flower and fruit on wood that is at least one year old.
So if you remove all of this year’s growth into older wood, this will set back flower and fruit but sometimes it’s worth it to re-establish the life of an older, cherished tree.
Remember those spring flowering bulbs sitting in the bag that you promised to plant? Please do it today! Bulbs like Hyacinth, Daffodils, and especially Tulips need several months of cold weather to stimulate proper growth and flowering.
There is just enough time for them to still get what they need before spring days arrive and they burst into glorious flower...provided you do your part now! And the same applies to your spring flower garden displays.
The sooner things are planted, the longer they have to mature and become established before spring and the better your spring gardens will look.
And if you plan to give any soil areas in the garden a rest or are planning to build up the soil, now’s a great time to turn soil and leave it to “weather” over winter, or plant a green manure crop to improve the soil and keep things looking tidy!