Pacific Northwest

November, 2009
Regional Report

Recycle Fallen Leaves

Gather fallen leaves and spread them in a flat, shallow layer on the lawn, then mow over them. This allows you to mow the grass and chop the leaves all at the same time! The result is an excellent source of organic matter to add to your compost pile. After you've added it, top the pile with a few shovelfuls of moist soil and encourage it to heat up. The fresh grass clippings will hasten the decomposition of the leaves so you'll have finished compost much sooner.

Wrap Tree Trunks

Protect newly planted and young, thin-barked trees from sunscald injuries by wrapping the trunks with crepe tree wrap or white plastic tree guards. These materials help reflect bright sunlight and prevent the bark from heating up during the winter. Be sure to remove tall grass and weeds growing around the base of your trees to eliminate hiding places for overwintering rodents that might nibble on the tender bark.

Search for that Perfect Poinsettia

Holiday poinsettias will soon be showing up in garden centers. Select a plant with dark green foliage that fills each stem from top to bottom, and little green flower buds (in the center of the colored bracts) that are still plump and green. Make sure to have your poinsettia purchase wrapped in a florist's sleeve before transporting it outdoors. Cold temperatures can cause the plant to drop its leaves and flowering bracts.

Leave Healthy Foliage Alone

If the leaves of your bearded and Dutch irises are still green and upright, resist the urge to cut them back. Instead, leave them alone to continue providing energy to the rhizomes. You can cut them back next spring as they dry and begin to bend over.

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Now is the time to remove leaves and pine needles from your rain gutters and downspouts. Cleaning will prevent clogging which can cause the gutters to dump water onto your foundation shrubs and perennials. Cleaning will also prevent ice dams from building up that can back up water underneath roofing materials.

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