Green Gardening: Save Time, Money and the Environment
Everyone wants a beautiful landscape but most people feel they lack the time and expertise to
cultivate the results they want. With a few simple eco-friendly changes in your fall landscape care, you can get
more beautiful results with a limited investment of time and effort.
Triple Your Benefits
Cut the grass, recycle fall leaves and improve the soil with a pass of the lawn mower. Shred leaves and
leave them on the lawn as you mow this fall. As long as you can see the grass through the leaf pieces, the lawn
will be fine.
According to nationally known horticulturist and gardening expert Melinda Myers,
“Shredding leaves and leaving them on the lawn is good for the grass and saves you time. As the leaves break down
they add organic matter to the soil, improving drainage in clay soil and water holding ability in sandy soils. It’s
a great way to recycle a valuable natural resource and reduce your work load. You can increase the environmental
benefit even further by using an electric mower to both cut your grass and shred the leaves.”
Further improve your lawn’s health with fall fertilization. University research has shown that fall fertilization
is the most beneficial practice for home lawns. Less disease problems and slower weed growth means your lawns --
not the pests -- benefit from the nutrients. Fall fertilization also helps lawns recover from the stresses of
summer because it encourages deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease
“Northern gardeners can follow the holiday schedule and fertilize Labor Day and Halloween. Southern gardeners
should make their last fall fertilization at least 30 days before the lawn goes dormant or the average first
killing frost to avoid winter kill,” recommends Myers.
Use a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, for best results. Milorganite fertilizer is slow release and
resists leaching. Its phosphorus and organic nitrogen stay in the root zone for the plants to use over a long
period of time. And, it is good for the environment since the nutrients resist leaching into the groundwater and
nearby well. Plus, the non-staining iron promotes greening without excess late season growth that could be subject
to winter kill.
Less Work, Better Results
Leave healthy perennials stand for winter. According to Myers, “The seedheads add beauty to the winter landscape
and provide food for the birds. Plus, research has found perennials left standing are better able to tolerate the
rigors of winter.”
Be sure to remove any diseased or insect-infested plants to reduce the source of pest problems in next year’s
garden. Use any extra fall leaves as mulch. Shred the leaves with your mower and spread a layer over the soil to
conserve moisture and insulate the perennials’ roots. Not only are the leaves free, but using them as mulch is good
for your garden and the environment. Fall mulching gives you a jump on next spring’s landscape chores.
Shredded leaves also make a good mulch for over bulbs. Plant daffodils, tulips and hyacinths in fall for extra
color next spring. Set the bulbs at a depth of 2-to-3 times their height deep. Cover with soil, sprinkle on a low
nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite and water. The low nitrogen slow release fertilizer promotes
rooting without stimulating fall growth subject to winter kill. The leaf mulch helps conserve moisture, moderate
soil temperature fluctuations and eventually improves the soil.
Dig ‘Em In
Still more leaves? Then shred them with the mower and dig them into vacant annual flower and vegetable gardens or
incorporate them as you prepare new planting beds. You will be amazed at how quickly these leaves turn into organic
matter and improve your garden’s soil. Add a little slow release fertilizer to feed the microorganisms and speed up
Or use the shredded leaves in your compost pile. Combine fall leaves with other plant waste, a bit of soil or
compost, and a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer like Milorganite to create compost. Recycling yard waste saves
time bagging, hauling and disposing of green debris. You also reduce or eliminate the need to buy soil to improve
your existing garden soil.
So put away the rake and find creative ways to save time and money as you put fall leaves to work in your
landscape. For more information, visit www.milorganite.com and www.melindamyers.com
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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