7 Uses for Fallen Leaves

By the time autumn hits full swing, many trees will have shed their leaves for the season, and the last vestiges of red, yellow and orange magic will have faded to brown. Raking, blowing and collecting leaves becomes the primary chores of lawn and yard maintenance, and presents most homeowners with large piles of gathered leaves to tend to.

It is impossible to count just how many leaves fall to the ground each year, or just how many pounds of leaves get collected, but the numbers are substantial. Cleaning up leaves is considerable work. Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can handle all of your fall clean up and leaf blowing needs this autumn. We offer professional landscaping services to residential and commercial customers in Chambersburg, Fayetteville, and Shippensburg plus surrounding areas in Franklin County, PA.

We can collect and haul off all of those bags of leaves, but not all of those leaves need to be carted away. In fact, there are several different uses of leaves that can be beneficial.

1. Spread leaves as a protective mulch to cover tender perennials or root crops/bulbs in the ground. The leaves will form a natural insulating cover that keeps the soil and the plants within a bit warmer over winter.

2. Create a pile of leaves that will break down and form a crumbly, compost-like material called leaf mold. Even though leaf mold may sound like a blight, it’s actually a good amendment to garden soil, improving its structure and ability to hold water. Leaf mold also attracts beneficial organisms that are vital in healthy soil.

3. Brown leaves can be added to green materials in compost piles to improve the health of the compost being formed. According to the healthy living resource Care2, the ideal ratio is 75 percent brown to 25 percent green materials in compost. Turn compost piles regularly to aerate them.

4. Store dried, mulched leaves in a dry spot so they can be used in the spring as a weed barrier for spring plantings. They will keep weeds at bay and help retain soil moisture to ensure small sprouts have the resources to grow.

5. Use shredded leaves as a lawn supplement. Pass a lawn mower over leaves left on the lawn to break them down into pieces too small to rake. This will help keep the lawn healthy throughout the winter without blocking out needed sunlight.

6. Bag dried leaves and pack them tightly together in cold areas of the home, such as basements or garages. They can act as added insulation. Bags of leaves also can be placed around planting containers to protect them from frost.

7. Gather a few of the best-looking leaves and preserve them. Use an iron on a low setting and press leaves between two pieces of waxed paper until the waxed paper seals together. Or use clear contact paper to achieve the same effect.

Fallen leaves can be used in many different ways throughout the year.

Autumn Is a Prime Time to Tend Lawns and Gardens

Autumn is gardening season. That statement may not seem right to those who think of the spring as the peak time to care for lawns and gardens. However, autumn is an ideal time to get into the garden and ensure that flowers, trees and garden beds will over-winter successfully.

A number of things make autumn a prime gardening season. The cooler days of fall enable gardeners to spend ample time outdoors without the threat of blazing heat. In addition, soil harbors a lot of residual warmth in autumn. Also, the colder temperatures haven’t yet arrived in autumn, nor have the leaves completely fallen, making fall a prime time to assess what’s already in the landscape, what needs pruning back and where to address planting for next year.

Gardening enthusiasts can focus their attention on these areas this fall.

Pamper perennials

As annuals and perennials start to fall back, mark the spots where perennials are located so they can be easily identified later on. This way, when planning spots for spring bulbs or other spring layouts for next year, perennials won’t be overlooked or covered over.

Prune shrubs & clean up borders

Look at shrubs and trees and cut out dead or diseased wood. Weed and tidy up borders and lawn edging.

Install pavers or rock wall

Embrace the cooler temperatures to work on labor-intensive projects, such as putting in a garden bed, retaining wall or walkway.

Remove spent summer veggies

Take out vegetable garden plants that have already bloomed and borne fruit. Tidy up vegetable gardens and start to sow cooler weather plants, such as onions, garlic, beans, and sweet peas.

Rake and compost

Rake the leaves and gather grass clippings to add to the compost pile.

Plant spring bulbs

Get tulips and other spring bulbs ready for planting so they’ll burst with color next year.

Dig up herbs

Relocate herbs like parsley or basil to indoor gardens. Otherwise, strip all leaves and freeze for storage during winter.

Consider mums

Chrysanthemum plants are perennials. While they look beautiful in pots, if planted, maintained and winterized, they can bloom every fall.

Fertilize the lawn

Fertilizing in autumn helps ensure grass will stay healthy throughout the winter.

Add mulch and compost to the garden

Replenish spent soil with mulch and compost so garden beds will be revitalized for spring planting.

Prune hedges

Tidy up hedges, as they won’t be growing much more this year.

Clean and store equipment

Clean, sharpen and oil all equipment, storing lawn and garden tools properly so they are ready for spring and not lying out all winter.

Autumn may not seem like gardening season, but there are plenty of lawn and garden tasks to tend to during this time of year.

Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC can assist you with all of your autumn landscaping needs. We provide landscaping services to both residential and commercial customers in Chambersburg, Fayetteville, and Shippensburg, PA. Contact us today!

Strategies for Proper Pruning

As the leaves fall off the trees and greenery thins out for the season, exposing branches and undergrowth along the way, homeowners may be tempted to prune their trees and shrubs. But while autumn pruning may seem like a good idea, many gardening experts say it is often best for homeowners to wait until winter or early spring before pruning.

Although pruning does thin out branches and tame spent blooms, which can be eyesores, pruning also stimulates new growth. Pruning in the autumn, when plants are naturally preparing to go dormant, can weaken the plants considerably. This can compromise their chances of surviving into the next growing season.

Fall temperatures also can be deceiving. While it may be warm during the day when the sun is shining, temperatures can quickly drop overnight. Pruning during the warmth of day, when the sap has risen in the plants, may deplete energy from the plant. When the mercury drops at night, the plant can suffer.

If you must spend time in the yard in the fall, tend to the leaves and debris that have already fallen to the ground rather than focusing energy on fall pruning. If you have been diligent during the spring and summer, your shrubs and other plants likely won’t need pruning at this time of year.
Wait until winter before taking out the shears. At this point, the woody parts of many plants are dormant and will not be harmed or primed to grow by the pruning. Chances are you won’t prune too much as well, as chilly temperatures will keep you from spending too much time outdoors.
When it’s time to prune, consider these other pointers.

  • Keep tools clean and in good working order. You risk injury if your tools are dull and in poor shape overall. Spend time sharpening pruners and keep manual tools oiled and clean. Debris can lodge itself in clippers, making it more difficult to open and shut them. Wash and dry tools after use, especially when dealing with diseased plants. Otherwise you risk spreading disease to healthy plants.
  • Cut back stems completely. It’s usually a good idea to prune branches back to the main stem. Leaving a portion sticking out can catch on people or animals and produce a gathering spot for bacteria and insects. Take out thinner, smaller shoots first before moving on to any dead or dying branches.
  • Prune dry branches. Do not prune when plants are wet. Pruning damp plants encourages the growth of microbes that can infiltrate the plant. This is not as significant a problem in the winter, when microbes have already been killed.
  • Ask an expert. If you are unsure of how and when to prune particular plants, consult with an expert at a nursery or wherever you buy your plants.

When in doubt, it’s best to consult a professional landscaper to provide expert pruning for your trees and shrubs. Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC for all of your landscaping and pruning needs in Chambersburg, Fayetteville, and Shippensburg, PA.

The Many Benefits of Hiring a Professional Landscaper

The flowers are blooming, and the grass has begun to grow anew, making spring a great time for homeowners to once again turn their attention to landscaping. Those who aren’t looking forward to dusting off their lawnmowers and rethreading their string trimmers may want to hire professional landscapers to tend to their lawns and gardens.

A recent joint study by the National Gardening Association, Residential Lawn and Landscape Services and the Value of Landscaping found that homeowners spend roughly $45 billion per year on professional lawn and landscape services, as nearly 30 percent of all households across the United States use at least one type of lawn or landscape service. The rising use of lawn care services is indicative of homeowners’ appreciation of the convenience and craftsmanship professional services can provide. While the impact professional landscapers can have on a property’s aesthetic appeal is considerable, homeowners also benefit from working with professional landscapers in various other ways.

Time Savings

One of the biggest benefits of leaving lawn care to the professionals is the amount of time it will save for the average homeowner. Lawns generally need to be mowed once per week during the spring and summer seasons and, depending on the size of the property, that can take an hour or more. Add the time it takes to clean up clippings, mulch landscaping beds and edge the property, and homeowners can expect to devote a significant chunk of their weekends to caring for their lawns. Lawn services employ a few workers who make fast work of the job, leaving homeowners time to enjoy their weekends however they see fit.

Reduced Risk for Injury

Maintaining a landscape is hard work, and those unaccustomed to this type of activity may find themselves winded or at risk of injury. Improper use of lawn equipment also is a safety hazard. Leaving the work to professionals can help homeowners avoid strained backs, lacerations, pulled muscles, sunburns, and any other dangers that can result when tackling landscaping projects.

Financial Savings

On the surface, hiring a landscaping service may seem like a costly venture. However, after crunching some numbers, many homeowners realize that doing the work themselves may cost more in the long run than hiring a professional landscaping service. Homeowners who decide to go it alone must purchase expensive equipment, and those lawn tools will require routine maintenance, which costs additional money. Inexperienced homeowners may incur extra fees to “fix” mistakes that occur during the learning process. Each year, new seed, fertilizer, mulch, pesticides, and other supplies also must be purchased. But professional lawn care services typically charge a set fee per month, and that fee covers the maintenance of both your property and the equipment needed to keep that property looking great.

Know-how

Many professional landscapers know how to address lawn care issues that may arise throughout the year. They will know how to deal with dry patches of lawn or poorly draining areas, and they also can make recommendations on plants that will thrive under certain conditions.

One-stop Shopping

Certain landscaping services provide many different options for prospective customers. Basic lawn cuts may be one package, but there also may be services for seasonal seeding, weeding, leaf clean-up, and winterizing.

Consistent Maintenance

Homeowners who frequently travel or spend much of their summers away from home often find that lawn care companies are a wise investment. Established weekly schedules ensure the landscape always will look its best whether homeowners are home or out of town.

Now is a great time for homeowners to decide if hiring professional landscaping services is in their best interests. The time and money saved, as well as impact professional landscapers can have on a property, makes landscaping services a great investment for many homeowners.

Contact Locust Ridge Landscape, LLC for all of your landscaping and professional lawn care needs in Chambersburg, Fayetteville, and Shippensburg, PA.

 

When to Tackle Weeds in Your Lawn

Weeds are the bane of lawn and garden enthusiasts. Weeds can spread rapidly and overrun pristine grass, choking lawns and robbing them of their lush green look. In garden beds, weeds can steal water from thirsty plants, threatening their survival.

A proactive approach that prevents weed growth is easier and less frustrating than dealing with weeds after they have sprouted. That means addressing weeds before they release seeds, and not waiting so long that the damage is already done. According to the home and landscape experts with This Old House, spraying herbicide for weeds in June and July can address weeds before seeds are set. Tilling and installing a new lawn in late August or the beginning of September can help the lawn establish itself before the first frosts arrive, all the while avoiding weed growth.

The weed control experts at Roundup also suggest a springtime application of weed killer if this is the desired route. Early treatment can prevent weed roots from spreading too far in the soil, which can reduce the chances that weed remnants will be left behind to grow at a later time.

Homeowners with small lawns or gardens or those who prefer hand-weeding or using nonchemical ways to treat weeds must take steps to address the weeds early. Gardeners can try suffocating weeds by placing wood, blocks or plastic over them. Wet newspaper used as mulch can block weed formation and also clear patches of unwanted grass so that garden beds can be mapped out. Pouring boiling water on weeds or pulling them by hand is more effective when roots are young and have not yet spread.

The UK-based company Lawnsmith also suggests a mid-spring weed killer application. This ensures that all weeds that have surfaced are addressed and that none are missed by weeding too early.

The Idaho-based Town & Country Gardens suggests lawn and garden enthusiasts wait to tackle weeds. By waiting and applying weed treatments in the fall, when dandelions and other weeds are absorbing food and nutrients in larger quantities to survive winter, homeowners can rid their lawns and gardens of weeds efficiently.

Weeds are a nuisance and an eyesore in lawns and gardens. Choosing the right time to treat them can ensure they don’t adversely affect lush landscapes and thriving gardens.