I get bombarded with questions in the fall pertaining to leaves, mulching and watering. Many people want to know if it is good to leave the leaves in the beds for the winter or not. Others want to know if mulching really helps their plants stave off the cold during the arctic blasts. Some want to know when to water late plantings and how much they should water. While most landscape questions are broad in scope and the answers can be even more ambiguous the answers to the above questions are quite straight forward and my advice below should lead you to some quick solutions and harmonious results.
To leave or not to leave….or should it be to leaf or not to leaf? I recommend getting all of the leaves off the mulched beds. There isn’t a better way of throwing away money than leaving leaves in the beds and having them removed in the spring along with 50% of your mulch. If you have a forested area the leaves should go there to turn into organic matter for the trees. If you don’t have a place to put them then call up your lawn care service and see if they will blow the leaves out of your beds. Cleaning up the beds can also reduce molds and dust which can be quite unappealing to allergy sufferers.
Once the leaves are out of the beds this is a perfect time to add more mulch. You can usually get a good price on mulch in the fall so hit your beds up with a fresh coating. This will look awesome while at the same time it will add an extra layer of protection for your plants. Some studies say that mulch piled up around sensitive plants can actually add about 10 degrees of buffer onto the area around the roots. This can mean life or death in our inhospitable winters.
When you finally have raked and mulched I’d give everything one last spray of water. Get the mulch wet so it doesn’t blow away. Also, water your larger plants as they have deeper roots. They will need the extra water to make it through a dry spring. I particularly pay attention to my evergreens ensuring they are really getting a good soaking.
Take the time to enjoy a nice fall day and do the things listed above. It will clear you mind of clutter and you will be refreshed and invigorated knowing that your yard is going to be beautiful until the snow flies, will weather the cold just fine, and that the mulch is already done and come spring all you have to do is wait for the plant to emerge and enjoy. Fall is the time to get ahead so you can enjoy Spring and the warm weather that has returned.