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Leaf & Lawn Management :: Don Graves Testimonial

An Autumn Message From Master Composter/Master Gardener Don Graves

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One year later, Arlington Update revisits Master Composter Don Graves at his home in the Wimbledon neighborhood in south Arlington. Graves was preparing his compost bin for autumn leaves, which are beginning to fall.

Autumn is, to many people, the best time of the year. Its beauty, cool nights and warm days are the kind of weather most people enjoy. We’ve had all of the growth of spring and summer on our trees and shrubs, and now, as the leaves turn from green to all the pretty colors they have, we marvel at the beauty nature gives us.

As time progresses, this pretty show of color passes and we have our leaf drop which some do not enjoy. This is nature’s way of composting and replenishing to the soil the supply of fuels for next year’s growth.

For reasons unknown, people think leaves have to be gathered, bagged and sent to the landfill. In my way of thinking this is wrong. Leaves should be used in your landscape to condition your soil for winter and next season’s growth.

I mow my leaves until they cover the grass. Mowing reduces the volume by about 10 to 1 and the mowed leaves make the greatest mulch there is for your landscape. I gather the excess leaves and mulch flowerbeds and shrubs with about a 2 or 3 inch layer to moderate soil temperatures and moisture retention. This is nature’s way. If there are too many leaves, I put them in my compost bins.

The history of composting has been traced from the early Greeks and Romans through the Dark Ages and the Renaissance.

Most people can mow their leaves and use them in their landscape and not send bags to the landfill. For me, mowing is much easier than raking and bagging.

The City of Arlington and our Master Composters group teaches proper composting methods. With knowledge, composting is simple, easy, requires less work, saves landfill space, conserves water and improves soil quality.

“I mow my leaves until they cover the grass. Mowing leaves makes a great mulch for my landscape. I gather excess leaves and mulch flower beds and shrubs with about a 2- or 3-inch layer to moderate soil temperature and moisture retention.”

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In his front lawn, Graves has a thick, green landscape. Graves said he uses very little water or chemical fertilizers and never bags leaves.

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When there are too many leaves, Don Graves puts them into his compost bin.

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