Go Easier on Yourself this Fall
Red, orange, yellow, and brown; it’s time for autumn leaves to start falling. This year, don’t dread what the changing leaf colors signify; learn how to ease the strain and pain of raking — falls most taxing task.
Your first step is to not rake — yet. As you continue moving on into the fall, you can bag many of those leaves, or mulch them if you have a mulching mower. Once you’ve stopped mowing for the season in the garden, however, it’s not recommended to mow only to mulch the leaves. When your grass has stopped growing, that’s the time to address the leaves.
One tempting option in leaf removal is a leaf blower. While this gardening tool might do the trick on dry leaves, leaves are often damp and in tighter spaces where the blower is inefficient. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are also not environmentally friendly, and most models are quite noisy, rendering them not very neighborhood friendly either. Try an electric leaf blower only for areas that truly require them, such as the roof.
With the high-powered options out, looks like it’s back to good old-fashioned raking. When beginning to rake, first decide which leaves must go and which leaves can remain. Leaves can be left under trees and shrubs where they will compost themselves so that when spring returns, you will need significantly less new bark mulch to cover the areas surrounding your trees and shrubbery. Garden research has shown that trees fare better when they have a mulched area surrounding them. The mulch will improve the health of the tree and increase its growth rate.
The leaves covering the majority of your lawn, however, need to be cleared away if you want decent grass come spring. You don’t need to rake every time the wind blows, but waiting too long will make for much harder work. Selecting a proper rake can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend raking. For instance, the new Clog-Free Rake from Ames True Temper eliminates the frustration and inconvenience of stuck garden leaves at the end of the rake.
Whereas traditional rakes leave you perpetually stopping and bending over to remove clogged leaves from the tines, the innovative Clog-Free Rake has a wave-shaped tooth design that keeps those leaves from sticking. It also features a ComfortGrip handle to reduce hand fatigue and blisters.
When you venture into the yard to rake, remember to pace yourself and be careful of your back. Raking is a vigorous activity that leaves many people with sore backs because it requires the use of muscles you don’t typically use. Be sure to avoid back injury by moving your feet instead of standing in one spot and constantly bending and straightening. Be sure not to twist the trunk of your body as you rake.
A proper raking procedure is to rake leaves straight back and move with the rake as you walk backward. Take frequent breaks while you work, and give your back a good stretch by leaning backward to reduce pain. Also, switch hand positions periodically to reduce the amount of stress on one arm and side of the body.
If you already have back problems or know that raking always puts a strain on your back, look into purchasing a rake that is a more ergonomically correct garden tool. The Ergo Rake, also from Ames True Temper, for example, features a unique contoured handle so it’s easy on the back and requires no stooping or twisting. Because of its unique design, the pressure is exerted on the rake, not the neck, back, or shoulders. It also features a large handle diameter and a slip-free grip to reduce hand fatigue.
Once you have gotten all those leaves together, consider making compost of them to create mulch and fertilizer for the spring. Rake them towards the back of your yard or onto a vegetable bed if you have one, as long as you sprinkle on lime or ashes. Group them into piles approximately the size of two full garbage bags. You can also add summer flowers gardening and plants you have pulled for the year as well as twigs and grass clippings. Just make sure to include a layer of dirt between each foot of leaves. Sprinkle the pile with cottonseed meal and water if it’s dry. Make sure to turn the pile once a month to ensure overall moisture dispersal.
If you don’t have the space to compost and have to cart the leaves to your front lawn or need to bag them, consider using a wheelbarrow to do the hauling. For easier pick-up, Ames True Tempers Rake, Gather & Go has a detachable head that makes gathering leaves and grass clippings a cinch. When it’s time to gather the leaves, simply remove the detachable head and scoop it together with the rake for quick pickups. The detachable head clips easily onto the back of the rake for convenient storage.
Remember, while the task may be no day in the park, there are plenty of ways to make raking less taxing. Spread your work out and enlist help. Raking leaves with the family can lead to some wonderful romps in the piles for the kids. Or, enlist some of the neighborhood teenagers to aid in the chore. They’ll enjoy earning some extra cash, and you can earn some extra free time!
Gardening For Butterflies
Butterflies go where they please so it is important to create an attractive environment to lure them to your garden. A butterfly-friendly environment requires plenty of sunshine, shelter from the wind, a reliable nectar source, host plants for caterpillars and egg-laying, water, and protection from the danger of predators. Follow these simple guidelines:
1. Select a full sun or half-day sun location with good, well-drained soil.
2. Note which butterflies you want to attract and determine which plants they find most attractive for food or nectar.
3. The time of flowering, duration of bloom, flower color, and plant size are all important considerations when selecting plants to attract butterflies.
4. Plant shrubs, vines, and trees near the garden area to provide cover for the butterflies. Where possible, use plants that are also a food source for larva (caterpillars).
5. Butterflies need moist soil from which to drink. A pot-saucer filled with moist sand will serve as a water source for butterflies. Place a few smooth stones on the sand to serve as a landing platform.