Turn Over a New Leaf with Fall Clean-Up

falling leavesIn cold weather climates, fall is an excellent season for simultaneously getting good exercise outside and sprucing up your home’s exterior.

  • Fall leaf cleanup is excellent cardiovascular exercise and is best done by two or more people in phases. Get out an hour or so at a time to spread the chore over a few weeks. Leaves drop from trees in stages. It is unrealistic and frustrating to think one grand cleanup either at the beginning or end of the season will accomplish your goal. Don’t procrastinate to the point of having to claw at frozen clumps of leaves during snow flurries.
  • Reward yourself for outdoor chores by setting a pot of good soup or stew to simmer on the stove while you work. Coming in to the aroma of savory food without having to prepare dinner when you are tired will make the chore more pleasant and take on the association of a pleasant tradition rather than an onerous burden.
  • Sweep entryways of debris to leave a neat appearance for the winter months. Take the time to gently rake leaves from flower beds unless you have shredded them into smaller pieces. Otherwise, they will mat down and not only leave an unattractive mess in the spring, but harbor mold and fungus around perennial plants, possibly rotting their tender crowns.
  • Don’t leave pots of annuals outside once frost hits. Frost will blacken the plants and make them look pathetic all winter, as well as shorten the life of your containers. Clay pots are especially vulnerable to hard freezes and abrupt shifts in temperatures that cause them to shrink and expand. Dump the planters into a compost pile (or a low spot on the property that could use filling in), rinse the pots with a good spray from the hose and store them in a garage or shed.
  • If potted plants have not been plagued by pests or disease during the growing season, it is possible to reuse the soil for another year, but come spring you should augment it with fresh planting mix or composted manure to ensure its quality for another year of growing.
  • Remove fallen leaves from gutters. It is wise to never use a ladder when you are home alone. Be safe and have a partner stand by and hold the ladder. If you are beyond the time in your life when it is practical and safe for you to be on a ladder, consider hiring the service out, trading some other form of service with a neighbor, or asking a local volunteer group to assist you for free or a donation within your means. Boy Scouts, church youth groups and schools are often looking for ways to help their members earn service requirements.

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