Rake and remove leaves to avoid damage to grass. Doing so also can protect water quality. In winter, freezing and thawing can cause leaves, dead grass, plants and other organic debris to release soluble forms of phosphate (and nitrates). If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring snow melt and early spring rains, they can end up in surface water.
Retire your leaf rake and use your mower to clear fall leaves from the lawn. Use a grass catcher bag attachment to catch leaf pieces, which you can add to the compost pile or use as mulch on planting beds.
Here’s an idea that may not require going any further than your front yard: Mix magnolia leaves and branches of berries in a rustic wooden container. Cut the leaves in bunches using floral shears; then secure them to a foam floral brick inside of the container. Next, camouflage the brick by layering the berries on and around it.
Money tree (Pachira aquatica) goes by a host of other common names, including Malabar chestnut, French peanut, saba nut, Bombax and monguba. It can be grown in a variety of sizes: from miniature, to potted plant, to full-on tree.
Indoors, keep an eye on houseplants, especially any you kept outdoors for summer. Pests multiply quickly in the warm environs of a winter home. This vining violet is infested with spider mites, which are very difficult to eradicate on indoor plants. The white speckling on leaf surfaces is a clue mites are feeding. Webbing where the leaf attaches to the stem is another dead giveaway.
Many tomato diseases come from fungi that survive in soil. Lower tomato leaves act like a ladder, allowing tomato diseases like leaf spot or blight to splash from soil to the plant when raindrops strike soil. Removing all leaves below the first flower (and fruit) cluster on a tomato plant helps to reduce the occurrence of tomato diseases. Adding a thick mulch layer that covers soil also helps keep diseases from splashing onto leaves.
The maple tree family is a large one, and it includes trees of all shapes and sizes. From broad and spreading Norway maples, to columnar red maples, to short and shrubby ‘Emerald Elf’ amur maple, you can find a maple to fit any planting need. Japanese maples are probably the best known members of the family, but we’re inviting you to meet other members of the clan. If you’re in the market for a tree, consider a maple. You won’t be disappointed.
An outstanding mulch that’s free for the taking, shredded fall leaves provide a great alternative for informal planting beds, vegetable gardens and shade gardens. As leaves decompose, they add fantastic organic matter to soil. Slugs tend to like shredded leaves, so use caution applying them around slug favorites like hosta or leaf lettuce. Expect leaves to last from one to two growing seasons. Always shred leaves with a mower or leaf vac before using them as mulch.