Masterpiece Landscaping Blog

November 4, 2015

There is no Plant Life without Rot……What Are You Doing with your Autumn Leaves?

Filed under: Plant health,shrubs and trees,The Art of Landscaping — glenn @ 12:24 am

This Twin City Autumn has been the kindest extension of Summer ever in my remembrance.   Warmth without heat, rain without snow and wind.

Leaf fall is merely one stage in the cycle of plant life here in our Northland.  This is the season our  Earth is being replenished with Earth’s yesterday foliage  in order to continue life’s cycle.  The health of our trees and shrubs ideally  relies on water and its relationship with rot, that is with the Fall of yesterday’s plant foliage.

There is no life without rot.   It is the rot from life that,  if present  among plants, stores moisture which allows all the nutrients needed by Nature to be recycled back from rot to life.   Yesterday’s ‘falling leaves’  entrap  available seasonal water   to aid in speeding the  decay  of all available soil  organic matter  in the process, absorbing needed elements from this ideal  ‘living’ soil, available for any  seeds and  roots within plant  reach.

But what happens when Earth’s  grounds are covered with lawn, the beautiful and the unbeautiful where  lawn’s leaf residue is picked up when mowed and in the fall of the year, any leaves nearby are raked up into bags to be taken away by garbage trucks?

You can figure it out.    There still is a touch of yesterday’s undergrass decay available and  microscopic particles of debris of the once living blown in from  nearby to offer an element  or two to struggling specimens.   If maples, elms and such are nearby, these and others of nature’s behemoth trees  will  get the greatest grabs of water and needed   nutrients regardless of any degree of  drought.

In the ideal every civilized  homeowner of  a home with grounds should learn how to practice gardening the Earth in some form  or another.

Every Autumn I distribute over  fifty large plastic bags of  chopped oak leaves around my favorite shrubs and trees.    I have about a half acre of plants and paths of which only seven minutes is devoted to lawn mowing.    I also  ‘make’ soil for seasonal use  with about twenty bags of chopped tree leaves mixed with lawn grass  (provided by neighbors),  which are  dumped upon  small piles which I make  appear to be  just another grown cover.

Be fully aware that fertilizing  woody plants living in  moisture and rot will alter their growth  size  unless you live in those suburbs in which all of the topsoil was removed from the property when the house was built.

We usually leave identity tags on the new plants we install on our clients’ grounds to note expected adult sizes of each one  both woody and non-woody.   If water, fertilize, and mulch with organic matter are applied on a regular basis, one should expect excellent and very healthy growth for nearly all species….(Some species are fussier about growing than others.)     An important post script is required here.   The kinder you are watering, fertilizing, and mulching your plants with decaying vegetative matter will most certainly cause certain results.   Your woody plants will become much happier and BIGGER in size.

Examples.   Twenty five years ago or so I planted a Golden Carousel Barberry….a deciduous thorny shrub listed as growing to three or four feet in maturity.   It’s fall color is spectacular in both leaf and fruit and last for two months or more.

Today it is alive and well  at eight feet tall and ten feet wide.

My Ginkgo biloba tree which I planted from  seed   around 1980, is now over 55 feet tall.   My white pine, of the ten ten inch second year seedlings  planted in 1976 in celebration of our Nation’s bicentennial, seven have survived.   The three tallest are around ninety feet tall.   Plant growth runs overtime in size on these grounds because of the  depth of organic matter, all that extra  rot  I have provided over the years.