It’s Not Therapy For Me

I hate leaves.

I guess I should elaborate on that statement:  I like leaves as long as they’re attached to a tree.

I hate them once they fall to the ground.

I spent the better part of the end of 2010 raking up the multitudes of leaves that fall from my trees.   Some gardeners find  raking leaves therapeutic.  Not I!  It’s a job I dread and detest.  I foisted some of this year’s work on The Teenager–it’s always good to have things to hold over a teen.  But, as usual, because I’m the gardener,  I’m left with the bulk of leaf clean-up.  And it always seems like the leaf pick-up will be endless, yet the mess only lasts  for a few weeks, at most.

It’s just that there are so many leaves.

And more leaves.

While I rake, I repeat a mantra to help me through the drudge:  Stop whining about the leaves.  You have four large, mature trees on your property.  They provide shade during the hot months of the long Central Texas summer.  Stop whining about the leaves.

I love the beautiful rust color that the Red Oaks turn before the leaves disengage from their arboreal home.

The transformation of color begins in earnest in early December, from green to the lovely blend of orange, rust and burgundy,

and by the end of December, they drop.

And then I rake.  And rake.

Some of the Red Oak leaves will also end up in the gardens, but only in specific areas because of the size of the leaves.

The small, thin leaves of the Arizona Ash tree are ideal to leave in the gardens, so that’s where I put most of them.

They break down through the winter months, especially if it is a wet winter.

Some leaves end up in the compost.

This year, because I haven’t been a good gardener and I haven’t been diligent about turning the compost, most of my leaves ended up as yard waste, placed at the curb for pickup on

In their next life, they’ll be mixed with treated sewer sludge  (heated to a safe temperature) and made into a gardening product called “Dillo Dirt” by the City of Austin.  It’s sold in Central Texas nurseries as a soil amendment.

My least favorite leaves in my gardens are the leaves of the American Sycamore.  Big, thick and just…not attractive, except when they’re on the tree of course.  Once they’re down on the ground, they are clumsy and awkward.

They can be almost as big as dinner plates.

I hate these leaves once they fall.

This December, there weren’t as many of the Sycamore leaves because quite a few dropped during the summer.  The Sycamore is not a particularly drought tolerant tree and in especially hot, dry summers, it sheds some leaves early.  Usually, this garden is covered.

It’s actually not so bad this year, I guess.  I’ll shred some of these leaves with an attachment to my leaf blower and that’s useful because then I can put these leaves directly in the compost or in some areas of the garden.

The leaves are almost all down now.  Some are still wafting to terra firma with the breezes, so the cleanup isn’t quite over. There will be some tidying up here and there over the next month and then my gardens and pathways will be cleared and non-crunchy once more.

I’ll miss the beautiful hues of brown, red and orange in the garden.

6 thoughts on “It’s Not Therapy For Me

  1. It’s funny you should post this. I was just thinking how I’m learning to love the leaves in my yard this winter. Of course they are just small leaves…Japanese maples, native persimmon, Texas dogwood and crape myrtles. Talk to me in March and April when I’m battling the Live Oak leaves that take a year to decompose and see how much I’m loving them then!


    • While I love Live Oak trees, I’m grateful that I don’t have those in my yard too. When they come down, it’s all at once and everything turns yellow with the pollen!


  2. I’ll be raking leaves this weekend and I will try to remember your mantra to stop whining about the leaves. The trees really are wonderful. I can’t imagine life without them. But, ah… all the raking and bending is very hard on my old back. Opps… I’m whining already 🙂


  3. At least you are almost finished with the leaves.

    We have mostly live oaks which are turning yellow and look like they should start dropping soon. The drought has had an effect–no acorns and fewer leaves this year. Less work, but not a good thing


    • Almost finished, but not quite. There are still some stubborn leaves hanging on. You’re right though: I’d rather rake now, then do garden pruning and clean-up and not to also deal with the mega-drop of oak leaves. Good luck with yours and I hope the drought didn’t damage them too badly.


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