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It may still be hot outside, but fall is here and it’s time to get ready for winter. And even time to think about spring. Fall is a good catch-up and planning time. It’s a great time to plant. Before planting, though, take some time to plan. What is your vision for your lawn and garden? Want more trees for the shady leafy look? Want fewer trees so you can grow some grass? Want lots of flowers?As you plan your space, think about conservation. There are trees and plants that can help the environment and keep your workload down. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension (what used to be known as your county extension agent) has extensivelyresearched what plants will meet your goals.Take some time to explore the plants at Earth-Kind landscaping, aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/. 

You can have lush flowers that are easier to grow and use less water, a boon for summer water bills. Earth-Kind can also tell you which shade trees and fruit trees grow better here and require less work. You’ll be glad you took the time next spring and for many springs to come. Leaves are the first thing that come to mind when homeowners think of fall yard work. As kids we all learned they had to be raked, bagged and set out with the trash. Stop! That’s really not the best way. Those leaves are actually good for your yard. Unless you have thick falls that completely blanket the grass, the best thing to do is to let them lie. Wait until they are dried and crunchy then mow over them. The bits settle down among the blades, decay and return needed nutrients to the soil. If you must rake, start a compost pile. Pile the leaves in a three-sided open container often made from wire mesh and available at local nurseries and online. Or build one from pallets or old fencing. Run a mower over the leaves, rake them up and pile them in the container. Add kitchen waste such as potato peels, mix up and water. Keep the pile wet and remix occasionally. Come spring you’ll have great fertilizer for your flower beds and vegetable garden.

If you do bag leaves, try putting them in paper lawn bags available at most nurseries. Set them on the curb, separate from your regular garbage. Don’t be surprised if they disappear before the trash truck gets there. Obsessive gardeners pick them up and gleefully add them to their compost piles.

 Remember if you have questions about growing things you can ask a Master Gardener anytime. Email questions at kcmga.org

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