Fall Yard Treasure

first_imgTurn the pile over about once a month and make sure it stays moist. The material decays intorich, black compost in five to six months. “You don’t have to turn it,” McLaurin said. “But itwill compost more slowly if you don’t.” The dying and dead leaves and plants can provide insulation this winter and valuable organicmaterial for next year’s plants. McLaurin said he uses as much yard clippings and trimmings as he can as mulch first. Then hecomposts any remaining material. Mulches keep the soil moist and insulate plant roots. Ah, fall! The crisp air. The cooler days. The mounds of leaves in your yard and dead plants inyour garden. Using yard waste as mulch is also like composting in place. “The mulch decays right there,”he said. “Then next spring, a quick cultivating adds rich organic matter into the soil.” McLaurin said landfills don’t take yard or garden waste anymore. New laws ban leaves, yardtrimmings and other organic material. And those city and county landfills that have specialorganic-matter disposal sites are increasing their fees for pickup and disposal nearly everyyear. “When you think about it, it’s kind of silly to pay someone else to cart away yard trash andleaves this fall and then turn around and buy mulches and compost next spring,” McLaurinsaid. It’s important to clean gardens and flower beds every year. “The dead plants can harbordisease organisms and insects,” McLaurin said, “that may damage or destroy plants nextyear.” The county extension office has more information about using mulches and composting yardwaste. Some people prefer the look of pine straw as mulch, he said. “So use two and a half inches ofyard waste,” he said, “and cover it with enough pine straw for the look you want.”center_img “Be grateful for what you’ve got and use it,” said Wayne McLaurin, a horticulturist with theUniversity of Georgia Extension Service. “There’s so much usable ‘trash’ in your yard andgarden that’s free.” During composting, the rotting process makes the pile heat up. That heat kills most diseaseorganisms and insects. Most seeds die during the process, too. “The only two I’ve seen come back are very seedyweeds and morning glory,” McLaurin said. “But I think morning glory comes back no matterwhat!” You can compost and make it a lot of work, McLaurin said. Or you can leave the trash in apile and it will rot and make compost by itself. Pile dead plants, yard trimmings and leaves in one out-of-the-way, but easy-to-get-to, place.For every three big bags’ worth of leaves, add one cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Then spread the ground-up trimmings two to three inches deep around ornamental bushes,trees and in flower beds. McLaurin said it’s safe to use any animal manure, too, except pet waste. Grind leaves and dead plants by running over them with a lawn mower. Grinding the materialmakes the pieces smaller and keeps them from blowing away. “Using yard waste is smart on a lot of counts,” McLaurin said. “It saves money and time andhelps the environment. There’s certainly no point in going out to buy mulch and compostedmaterial when you’ve already got it right there in your yard.”last_img