Writings about

the many life lessons

unearthed when we dig

in the dirt . . . and pursue

a range of other interests

in the constantly evolving

garden of life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Better Way to Herd Leaves

Many are the reasons to love gardening, but cleaning up in fall and winter is not one of them.

The wealth of trees in Country Connecticut, along with the frequent blowdowns, produced an extrordinary harvest of tree litter in the past several months – led by leaves, leaves, leaves.

Fall came and went, and I was not even tempted to go out and blow them around. I've always been a raking man, as I explain in this 2010 Hartford Courant essay.

As time goes by, even regular raking makes me want to find a better way. Well, I've done it. Instead of getting out there in late autumn, combing over my acre of gardens, I waited for the leaves to come to me, or at least come to places next to the house and behind the garage (below), where I can scoop them up.

We've heard a lot about slow food. This is slow raking.

I've noticed that if I wait long enough, herds of leaves also congregate around trees and shrubs, caught in branches growing close to the ground, such as Japanese maples that spread horizontally.

The trick is to not wait so long that these leaves get covered with snow and ice, as they'd last until spring. Hauling mushy leaves is not the way I want to begin that season. Time's running out; even in this weird winter, I know there will be snow, and there will be ice. Eventually.

The driveway, meanwhile, stays clear, serving as a highway for leaves headed for my roundup sites.

To be sure, tolerating the view of unraked leaves for months requires a good deal of patience, not always given to gardeners. But there's a payoff: accomplishing more in less time. As I grow older – and wiser? – I might move past even slow raking. And, not rake at all, letting nature compost my leaves in place.


  1. I have taken to blowing or raking them from the garden to the lawn, then chopping them up with the lawn mower and putting them back on the garden. It's a bit of work, and the payoff in all that black gold is well worth it.

  2. Definitely a winning way to handle leaves, Lynne. Hard to beat recycled leaves when you're mulching plants and feeding a lawn. Good to hear from you.

  3. What makes you such a special writer is that you can make something simple so beautiful.

    I loved the article that you referred us to in the Courant__especially the way you ended it.
    I continue raking and bagging, hauling and composting. As I do I often hear the sound of a leaf
    falling, the song of a bird.

  4. Hey, Lee, I enjoyed re-reading your October 2011 piece from The Courant. Yes, raking is restful, so is weeding, and many other chores that gardening requires. It's a time for just resting the mind or thinking or just being in quite peace.

    However, for anyone who loves trees as I do it is hard to complain. From the many delicate shades of green in Early Spring, all through Summer to cool and shade us, until they put on their coats of many colors just before they go to sleep in Fall, they are the best Mother Nature has to offer.

    In addition, the leaves, in all colors, covering the ground have their own beauty. Then they can be shredded and used as mulch or compost. Year round treasures, for sure.

  5. – Rose Lady, thank you. Words like yours keep me looking for and appreciating the beauty in life's simple parts.

    – Barbara, well put, thank you. Can you imagine a world without trees?


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