In mid-November I told you about our two-part plan for dealing with the fallen leaves. For the lawn (part one), Jack and I planned to mulch the leaves with the lawnmower and leave them in place to decompose. For the beds (part two), we were going to wait until all the leaves fell, rake them out to an open area, mulch them with the mower, and return them to the beds.
Part one of the plan seemed to work fine. It was a lot easier and quicker to mow the leaves, compared with raking them and moving them to a compost pile. We have a lot of tiny leaf pieces in the lawn, but we believe the next few rains will push them to the soil level. We are anticipating that they will decompose nicely by spring and add nutrients to the soil.
Plan two was much nicer while we were in the "waiting for the leaves to fall" stage of the plan. But this past weekend offered up two warm days and nearly all the leaves were down, so we decided that it was time to go operational. Executing plan two was much slower than I expected because the leaves were very deep in some places. We finished the front beds on Saturday, and Sunday we got about half of the beds in the back and side yards done. The work was back-breaking because in some places we had to pick up the leaves to move them out to an area where we could run the lawnmower over them. I estimate that Jack and I need one more sunny day to finish everything. We were happy to get so much done over the weekend, but I can't say that today's rain was unwelcome. Jack and I are both driven to finish things once they are started, and if the weather had permitted, we would have been out there raking and mulching again today. But this rain forced us to take the day off. Mother Nature, our sore backs thank you!
We won't know until spring how well this way of dealing with the leaves works out, but, in terms of labor, I think I like these methods. Unless we see unanticipated negative effects in the spring, I think plan one was a definite success--definitely less work-- and that this is probably how we'll handle them in the future. So far, I think plan two is a keeper, too. Although we worked really hard the days we worked on the beds, it was a much shorter leaf-raking season. Last fall, it seemed we were raking leaves continuously from October through December. And since we are returning the mulched leaves back to the beds, we avoid the work of building and caring for a compost pile. The benefits just keep coming!
On a completely unrelated topic, happy winter solstice. Tomorrow is a longer day!