Ahh, you can almost smell it in the air as the trucks delivering the greenery come through town. Fresh garland, wreaths, kissing balls, balsam swags … and don’t forget the TREE. A fresh Christmas tree brings that scent into the home for all to enjoy.
Here are some other ways to decorate:
- Several types of greens, holly berries and pine cones make lovely centerpieces, baskets and runners.
- A tabletop tree serves a dual purpose. It is a lovely decoration in the home during the holiday season and in the spring it can be planted to enjoy for years to come.
- If you prefer a live plant you could choose a live poinsettia or amaryllis.
- Pine cones make a lovely decoration when piled high in a basked. Tie a few together with a festive wired ribbon for a colorful touch.
- Fill a clear vase with cranberries to hold flowers or greens in place. Bring back memories for grandma and grandpa and string them with a needle to make a holiday garland. Add popcorn if you have a live tree you’ll be putting outside after the holiday so the birds can feast.
Do you have bulbs or perennials in your flower beds? The best way to protect them from fluctuating temperatures is by mulching. Fluctuating temperatures can heave your plants and bulbs right out of the ground and damage or kill the plant. Three to four inches around trees and one to two inches in your flower beds is sufficient.
If you mow and bag your leaves you get a great shredded/mulched mix to put on your flower beds. This a great solution to where to put those leaves if you don’t have a compost pile – but – you have to wait til the ground is frozen before applying. The winter rain and melting snow will take the nutrients from the decomposing mulch and distribute the nutrients to the soil for your plants to use.
Mulch also keeps the soil warm and encourages continued growth through the cold months. When Spring finally arrives those roots will be stronger, the plant will be healthier and will require less water.
If you decide to blow leaves into your garden keep a watchful eye out in Spring for when bulbs and plants start to emerge. Because those leaves are large and flat they can smother new growth. Be sure to remove this mulch early so you don’t have yellow spindly growth.
Other materials that can be used are straw, grass clippings and pine needles. These will not smother like the whole leaves do and can be either worked into the soil in Spring or removed.
There are so many choices when it comes to picking a leaf blower: gas or electric, corded or cordless, with a vacuum or without, or handheld or a backback. Here’s help with the overwhelming choices:
Gas or Electric
If your hard doesn’t reach beyond 150 feet you can choose a corded electric leafblower. An electric unit may also be a good choice if you live in a congested area where a quiet leaf blower would be appreciated. Gas is a good choice if you need to reach beyond 150 feet from a power source or if you have a large yard. You may also want to check with your local city or town offices to see if there are any noise requirements in your area before purchasing a leaf blower. Here in MA one town doesn’t even allow them at all. Hearing protection might also be a wise thing to do if you spent a long time at task.
Blowing vs vacuuming
Some leaf blowers simply blow leaves where you point the machine, others allow you to vacuum them up. Vacuuming gives you more control but the bags are relatively small and would require more work if you’ve got a large area to clean.
Handheld or Backpack
Handheld blowers are smaller and more convenient due to their portability and come in either gas or electric. Backpack blowers are designed so you can use it all day without getting tired.
And then there’s one more choice for the very large yard: Walk-Behind Blower. What could take you 6 hours with an electric could take you 3 with a gas blower and 1 with a walk-behind.
Don’t buy a blower too small for your needs. It’s better to have a machine capable of moving wet leaves than having to wait til they’re dry. A good strong blower can also help clear snow so you might be able to justify the cost with not having to buy a small snow thrower.
Everything you always wanted to know about
LEAF CLEAN UP
If you’re the do-it-yourselfer there are several ways to tackle all those leaves that are falling. Whether you prefer the exercise or the noise there are choices.
There are basically three choices in rakes:
1. Plastic rakes are the cheapest. Because they’re mass produced you’ll be able to find them everywhere.
2. Bamboo rakes are the most comfortable because they are light and have old-school appeal.
3. Steel rakes are more durable than the two other choices. They are also heavier and more expensive.
Tips: Don’t get a rake that’s too narrow or you’ll be raking forever. On the other hand, a wide rake will make the job quicker but is more difficult to use. Also check for handle length. There should be space between your hands so you have good leverage. Look for a rake with a padded handle or wear gloves to prevent blisters. And be careful to switch arm and leg positions often so you don’t constantly use just one set of muscles.
Gas powered or electric:
1. Electric blowers are cheaper and lighter than gas blowers but don’t have as much blowing strength. You also have to worry about getting power to where you’re working.
2. Gas blowers are more powerful and will get the job done easier and quicker. They are also bulkier and require a special fuel mix and more maintenance than an electric blower. Gas blowers also come in handheld or backpack models.
Or you could use another noisy machine: your lawn mower. A mower with a mulching blade and bags can mulch the leaves and quicken the composting process for you. Depending on the amount of leaves on your lawn it could be a lot more work because you’ll have to dump the bags in the compost pile quite often.