Autumn is Arriving

Most gardeners dread Autumn.  Shorter days mean we’ve all got less time to potter around and enjoy our prize plots. As the leaves on trees start to turn various shades of amber and gold, there are also important jobs we need to keep on top of at this time of year.

Judging by the queries that have been coming into CountryLife from customers a lot of you are turning your attention to grass maintenance at the moment and specifically how to deal with leaves falling on lawns. Apart from cutting away trees altogether the only solution is determination and lots of elbow grease.

Many gardeners can’t justify buying a leaf blower so the most cost effective solution is investing in a good rake. There are rakes o meet every budget. But I always recommend spending a bit extra on a good, durable one to see you through a lot of work over the coming months. I would prefer to spend more to begin with rather than shelling out for a replacement rake after only a few uses.

True Temper Poly Leaf Rake

Newer rake designs like the poly rakes from True Temper are specially designed to make it easier and faster to rake leaves on lawns. I find it better to keep on top of leaves and rake them up every couple of days. In the past I have waited until all the leaves have fallen from the trees before I tidied up. But this literally leaves you with a mountain to clean up! It is quicker and less daunting in the long run to do it as it comes.

Making Leaf Mould

Once you have collected the leaves you can either add them to your compost heap or bag them up and turn them into leaf mould that can used to enrich the soil the following year. I am a big fan of making leaf mould. It really is like liquid gold in the garden. It adds so much to the soil and gives plants a great boost when you plant them.

Making your own leaf mould simply involves collecting the leaves and bagging them up into sacks or black bags. This helps to contain the leaves and speeds up the process. If the leaves you collect are very dry then add a jug of water on top of them to aid the breakdown.  A handful of compost maker will speed up the natural process of compost development.

Finally, pierce a few holes in the bag and tie it loosely at the top. Once you have all your bags ready you can leave them in corner of the garden for around a year to a year and a half until you have rich dark leaf mould.

Making your own leaf mould is an easy way to produce this invaluable soil conditioner

Good quality, well-rotted leaf mould (more than two years old) can be used as seed-sowing compost or mixed equally with sharp sand, garden compost and good quality soil for use as potting compost. 

Leaf mould that is less than two years old can be used as mulch, a soil improver, autumn top-dressing for lawns or winter covering for bare soil.

If your leaf mould is slow to break down, try turning it regularly to aerate the leaves and speed up the breakdown process. It is important to make sure that the leaves do not dry out so moisten the pile if necessary in hot, dry weather.