Garden Waste

by Bruce Gaudette
August 11, 2008

Fall clean up in the garden can be quite a chore. There are shrubs and trees to prune, leaves to rake, that final mowing of the lawn, and cleaning up the last of the perennials. Instead of filling the garbage can or green tote, consider reusing a lot of these items.

The evergreen cuttings, both coniferous and broadleaf, can be used for holiday swags, wreaths and centerpieces. Hemlock cuttings should not be considered for these items as they dry out far to quickly and will loose their needles within a week.

Branches from deciduous trees can be use in the garden next summer for staking and trellising. Simply place the branch in the ground like a small tree, and let your beans and peas climb all over them. Wildlife will also benefit from a pile of stacked branches in the winter. The branches provide safe shelter from larger predators.

Small diameter branches from Willow, Cherry and Plum trees can be used for pathway borders. Simple designs such as arches or a woven pattern can provide interest with minimal fuss.

Grass clippings are a constant headache for a lot of gardeners. The best option for both the gardener and the garden is to use a mulching mower. These mowers cut the clippings into fine pieces that stay on the lawn. The cuttings break down quickly and provide the lawn with additional nutrients that it craves. In short, the gardener does less work, and the lawn requires less fertilizer. If you don’t have a mulching mower, place the clippings into a compost pile, or layer them with leaves around your perennials as a winter mulch.

Leaves should be removed from the lawn area, but can be left in the planting bed as a winter mulch. They can also be left in the planting bed and worked into the soil in the spring. Most people prefer the clean look of bark, but tree leaves make a great mulch.

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