I’m content to leave as much garden clean up as possible to the devices of nature. I’ve often been successful in delaying a project until decay has eliminated the need to undertake any labor at all, but in a garden that is situated at the edge of a forest of towering maples, oaks, and tulip poplars, the natural processes have no chance of handling the volume of fallen leaves in autumn before small plants are smothered. Believe me, I’ve tried.
I take no pride in the accomplishment of routine garden tasks, and certainly this is the root of persistent quarrels with my wife, who prefers more tidiness. By default, she’s assumed responsibility for pruning ivies, hostas, and liriopes to keep the garden pathways passable, and for larger chores she’ll pester until I’ve no reasonable alternative except to follow her instructions. Unless, I can find an excuse to put it off until later, but that’s not really an option for the piles of leaves that accumulate through autumn.
There seems to be two parts to the annual leaf drop. The first is in October, and with a dry September there are now more leaves dropping than is typical. As bare as it seems that trees are today, the bulk of the leaves are still to fall several weeks from now. So, in the interest of expending as little energy as possible, I wait until every last leaf has fallen to do anything. This means that the stone paths on the side of the house will be blanketed by an ankle deep layer of maple and tulip poplar leaves, but I’m pretty certain I can manage for a few more weeks.
With cooler temperatures a few winter weeds are popping up, and now that it’s rained again I presume there will be more. The prudent thing is to uproot these early on, and certainly before they have a chance to go to seed, but that doesn’t always happen. So, it becomes a bigger chore, and seeds carry over to the next year. As leaves fall it seems that my motivation does also, and winter weeds have proven to be a particular problem in my garden.
The simple solution would be to hire someone to take care of these tasks that I continually put off, but the last time I checked they want money to do this, so there’s no way that’s going to happen as long as I’m able. It might take me a while to get around to it, but eventually most everything gets done. And, the rest decays.