Autumn can bring welcome relief from the hot, hazy days of summer. Cool, crisp air, beautiful blue skies and the spectacular fall colours might seem like a gift from Mother Nature. But the beauty of the season also brings a mountain of yard work, with falling leaves and dying plants.
What people may not realize is that a good fall cleanup can really pay off in the long run. This work has many benefits, to maintain not only a healthy yard, but a healthy mind and body too.
Make way for spring blooms
Raking leaves, collecting debris and cutting back plants can seem like an enormous job, but your yard will thank you for all the hard work when spring rolls around again. Taking care of your soil, grass and plants in the fall can also help you save time and money. Here are some tasks you can tackle to ensure your oasis is ready to bloom when the next growing season arrives.
Remove thick layers of fallen leaves from your grass. Use the mulch setting on your mower to mulch leaves and leave a thin layer on your grass. The nutrients in this natural fertilizer will help produce a healthy green lawn once the snow melts away.
Cut back perennial plants to promote better growth. You’ll also want to remove any dead or diseased plants to preserve soil quality and stop diseases from potentially spreading to healthy plants. Removing debris also helps prevent a variety of pests from building a winter home.
Till the soil in your garden beds and add mulch. Mulched leaves are full of good nutrients and work wonders. They can prevent soil erosion, protect roots, retain moisture and stop weeds from sprouting.
Protect tender plants and shrubs. Canadian winters can be harsh, and some plants just don’t do well during the cold months. Keep these plants safe from the elements to ensure they’ll survive until the warm weather returns. Cover tender shrubs with burlap and bring potted plants indoors.
Plant bulbs. Fall is a great time to plant certain veggies and bulbs, like garlic, kale, tulips and daffodils. You can also plant perennials in early fall, so they’ll be ready to grow and bloom next spring – just make sure to do it six weeks before the ground freezes.
Stock up your compost pile. If you compost, this is the perfect time to add to the pile. The green plants that you cut back are a good source of nitrogen to balance the carbon that comes from the dead leaves that you’ve added.
Get in the garden and feel great
All that raking, mowing, digging and cutting is excellent cardiovascular exercise. It’ll help you get your steps in, increase oxygen flow to your heart and reduce blood pressure and stress. Creating a beautiful space also gives you a full-body workout. Raking and bagging leaves works your arms, shoulders, core and legs. Digging and cutting plants works your arm and back muscles, and mowing your lawn adds to your daily steps. Always remember to bend at the knees to avoid straining your back.
Not only is gardening a good physical activity, but it can also boost mental wellness. Being outside in the sunlight gives you a good dose of natural vitamin D, increases serotonin levels and helps decrease feelings of stress and depression. A recent study suggests that digging in the dirt might also help with mental health. Apparently, a bacterium found in soil seems to activate brain cells to release more serotonin.
Gardening and yard work can also be therapeutic. Focusing on a project with tangible results takes you away from things that might cause you stress or anxiety. Having a goal and seeing your hard work bring it to life is rewarding and benefits your mental health.
Source: Lasagna gardening 101