Fall is finally here, just before the holidays! Well, the weather is still weird, but leaves are falling off trees at a rapid rate.

It seems that some people find the leaves almost offensive, with a leaf-free pristine lawn. (It must take round-the-clock surveillance.) There are others who take a more casual approach. But then you have the gardeners. They are scurrying around like squirrels, grabbing up bags of leaves from the curb to take back to their yards. I’ve seen many a hatchback that can’t close because of all the bags of leaves crammed in the car!

Keeping the leaves in our landscapes improves the fertility, organic matter content and structure of our soils. My recommendation is to mow your leaves into little bits and leave them on your lawn or put them in your flowerbeds. If the leaves have fallen into your flowerbeds, your work is done.

For those that must remove the leaves from the premises, you also have some ecologically beneficial options. The city of Denton created a yard waste program that includes carts and paper kraft bags with weekly, no-hassle pickup. Just don’t use plastic bags, since that will send the leaves to the landfill. Using the cart or kraft bag sends the leaves on to new life as compost and other Dyno Dirt products.

Another great, earth-friendly option from the city is recycling your live Christmas tree! There are a few restrictions, such as no flocked trees, tinsel or those icicle thingies that get everywhere. To learn more about Denton’s waste collections, contact customer service at 940-349-8700.

“Snowvid,” or Winter Storm Uri, did a number on our trees. Maybe some of yours are not faring well. It’s never a bad time to plant a tree — they do have a lifespan and urban trees don’t live as long as their “country cousins.” Also, those trees that aren’t well suited to our area (looking at you, Bradford pear) die faster than our native options.

The Denton County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for trees. One gallon selections include oaks (burr, Shumard, live, Mexican white) and smaller trees (vitex, Mexican plum, desert willow). In smaller containers, evergreen pines (Afghan, Italian stone pine) are available, and pecan trees and aromatic sumac are available bareroot.

Mail or submit orders to Denton County SWCD, 525 S. Loop 288, Suite C-1, Denton, TX 76205. If you have any questions, please phone 940-383-2691, ext. 3, or visit the USDA Service Center in Denton. Orders are reserved upon payment and quantities are limited, so please order soon. Trees must be picked up on Friday, Feb. 25, at the North Texas Fairgrounds in Denton between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Smaller trees go through less transplant shock than larger transplanted trees. Buying smaller trees or even seedlings is not a bad idea at all (plus there’s less digging). For more details on proper tree planting and more tree choices for our area, check out www.dcmga.com, email us at master.gardener@dentoncounty.gov or call or text 940-349-2892.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or via email at jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu.

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