Date Archives: October 2020

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October
28

Making Memories With Fall Leaves

Our Golden Ash Tree dropped its leaves today... yes, all in one day!

When the kids were young, this event called for a festive time beginning with a long day of raking huge amounts of golden leaves into piles. Then it took several more days for pets and children to tire of playing "hide and go seek" in their huge forts. Before it dared to rain on our fluffy mounds, we rolled the leaves onto tarps and dragged them into garden beds where the leaves worked thier magic throughout the winter!

Our children are grown now, with yards of their own. However, on this perfectly beautiful fall day, with a new leaf blower in hand, I took great pleasure in revisiting memories of assorted hand rakes, children's laughter and smiling faces and playful pets.

Best Wishes for pleasant fall days with your family! Here are some tips on how to use your leaves this fall...

Why Are Leaves Valuable to the Gardener?

It's simple. When incorporated into soil, fall leaves:

  • Add nutrients, including phosphorous and potassium
  • Increase the soil's microbial life
  • Boost its water-holding capacity
  • Improve its structure, known as tilth

And did I mention that leaves are free? It takes little effort on your part to get them working for you, so instead of sweeping them to the curb, here are several ways to use leaves in your garden.

Protect Outdoor Potted Plants

When the weather turns cold and potted plants (the hardy ones, not houseplants or tropicals, which must be brought indoors) go dormant, pick a sheltered place on the north, west or east side of your house. Cluster the pots together against the house, ideally beneath an overhang. Pile dried leaves over, under and between the entire grouping of pots.

If the area is windy, corral the pots with chicken wire so the leaves won't blow away. Pile the leaves inches deep, covering the pot and as much of the plant as possible. Under this insulating blanket, both plants and pots should come through the winter just fine. With this method, even terra-cotta pots can stay outdoors, as long as water can't get into them and freeze.

Make Leaf Mold

Leaf mold is simply wet leaves that have decomposed into a rich, black, soil-like substance that makes a perfect mulch for plants. Pile the leaves in a spot where they're out of the way and won't blow away. Or make large (3- or 4-foot) circles of chicken wire, 3 feet high, and pile the leaves in them. Wet the leaves as you go so they'll rot. Turning the pile a few times during the winter will accelerate the process.

Mix Leaves — Shredded or Not — Into a Compost Pile Now, Where They'll Break Down Over Winter

Even better: Stockpile dried leaves, in garbage bags or piled in that out-of-the-way place, for summer. In warm weather there's an abundance of succulent green material (nitrogen) for your compost pile. But to keep the composting process aerobically working, and not rotting, it needs lots of "browns" (carbon), in the form of dried material.

Add Them to Vegetable Beds

You can incorporate whole or chopped leaves into any cleared-out vegetable beds. They will mostly decompose over the winter, then in spring you can mix in whatever is left. If you don't want to see leftover leaves in your beds, shred them first.

Don't have a shredder? A garbage can and a string trimmer will work. Use a 55-gallon garbage can. Fill it three-quarters of the way with leaves. Put the string trimmer in, turn it on and move it through the layers of leaves. Be sure to wear eye and ear protection.

Mow Them Into the Lawn

Then there's the easy way but much less fun for the kids- just mow them with your mower.
Together, shredded leaves and grass clippings add carbon (leaves) and nitrogen (grass) to the soil, reducing your need to add store-bought fertilizers later.

Memories of Fall contributed by Carol Solis, always enjoying the country life and family fun!

October
15

If you have been putting off outside maintenance on your home because of the summer heat, not to worry, the weather has changed! Fall is a great time to do dive into outdoor work and start preparing your house for winter and the cold weather ahead. Here are a few things you should be doing to make sure your home is ready for the changing colder temperatures ahead. 

  1. Clean Your Gutters Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris so water doesn't pool and cause damage to your home. 
  2. Check For Leaks and Water Damage Give your home a good look over to make sure there are no leaks, potential leaks, or water damage that you may have missed. Make sure to look thoroughly at your roof and attic to make sure there are no problems. 
  3. Winterize Your Outdoor Faucets Close off shut-off valves for outside faucets and fully drain the line of all water so they don't freeze and burst when the temperature drops. Consider using a cover on outdoor faucets. 
  4. Maintain Your Home's Heating System Make sure your filters are being replaced regularly and schedule a service check if you are due or haven't done one in awhile. Make sure your heating system is ready to get you through the cold winter months without issues. 
  5. Fireplace Maintenance If you have a fireplace, schedule a chimney sweep to make sure your fireplace is clean and ready to go this winter. Also, make sure to check your flue and vents before using the fireplace for the first time. 
  6. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans Reversing the rotation of your ceiling fans to clockwise makes heating your home more efficient. 
  7. Drain Your Hot Water Heater Draining your hot water heater helps flush sediment and debris which can cause your hot water heater to work less efficiently. Draining the hot water heater yearly may help your system last longer as well. 

If you have questions about anything on this checklist or if you are looking for a professional to help you with any of these services, get in touch with one of our Montague Miller & Co real estate professionals who will help answer your questions.