The seasonal burst of color has started in the bay area, and with the awesome colorful displays come one seasonal task –leaf cleanup. As trees both deciduous and partial-deciduous trees drop as the season progresses so does the daunting task of cleanup, and may linger around for multiple months, especially landscaping for commercial properties, retail centers and apartment communities.
Commercial Landscape Maintenance Tips: Fall Cleanup
Trees, that offer wonderful summer shade brings on an array of colors in the fall, are a great amenity to communities and commercial properties, but the leaf debris cleanup can become cumbersome and expensive for property managers alike.
Just after the leaf cleanup, more leaves will drop. Manicured landscapes cascade over the landscape with the organic by-product of a tree. The process in which plants store the sun’s energy – comes to an instant halt.
For debris prevention keeping the leaves from covering your manicured landscape, regular cleanup becomes a necessity. Often more than not, it’s more than the facility staff can handle, and outside help is needed from a commercial landscape service.
But properties, particularly those in the adolescent stage of development, can stabilize and reduce the headache of fall leaf cleanup by taking a methodical approach. Grouping trees that share common growth habits, for example, can reduce the overall maintenance load for debris control by selecting the appropriate types of trees.
Know Your Leaf Season
The volume of debris that falls and when is contingent upon the tree species. Some trees like Sycamore and Tulip are truly deciduous and shed leaves in fall, while others like Red Oak trees don’t shed there leaves until the spring when new growth emerges. Leaves on some trees, like Live Oaks, won’t fall until new leaflets starting appearing.
Changes in the seasons don’t always determine when the leaves drop. Pine and Cedar trees for example only shed leaves because of heat and drought stress or desiccation as the tree becomes severely stressed.
Trees are Not Created Equal
Because all trees have their own growing habits and are not created equal, a property with multiple tree types may experience a leaf-drop season that could last several weeks or several months depending on the species. With traditional deciduous trees that typically drop their leaves in the fall don’t drop simultaneously – some are a delayed and others a drop sooner.
Appropriate Tree Placement
A planned approach to tree placement, especially for new property developments or those that are phased in, will help mitigate the intensive labor expense of keeping property debris free. Properties may want to develop and plan a particular area with the same tree types, so that when leaves drop they drop at the same time helping to mitigate the labor expense for extended periods of cleanups.
Properties that want to pop with color but don’t want the burden of cleanup can selectively plant deciduous trees that provide fall color in red, yellow and browns at the focal points of a property and non-deciduous trees in the back 40.
Reduced Plantings Control Debris
Also, reduced plantings around parking lots, sidewalks and building entrances can reduce fall cleanup. Leaf debris usually becomes a slip hazard during the rainy wet season when trying to keep sidewalks safe and clean, around the office and the apartment community model unit. And leaf accumulation can be expensive to clean in parking lots and water features: a clogged filter can burn out a pump and cause failure.
Refraining from planting deciduous or semi-deciduous trees in those areas will mitigate cleanup expense. Trees that are evergreen are better choices for adding foliage around the community pool or water feature or other prominent gathering areas.
When Fall Cleanup Goes South
Delaying cleanup of leaf debris on lawns is not a good practice and creates problems. The blanket of leaf debris prevents the lawn from getting oxygen and necessary light. The turf eventually declines and will need to be renovated. Debris buildup is also conducive to fungus and other problems leading to lawn replacement. Damages are caused on lawns contribute to grass decline.
Leaving the leaves on top of the soil can also help the nutrient content of the soil creating a natural mulch barrier and can eventually be used on other parts of the property managing the soil. Mulching not only reduces debris but develops into a rich organic material that can be used for natural fertile soil amendment and composting.
And at the same time, the landscape will maintain a cleaner appearance and a healthier landscape for much of the season.
What Can I Do?
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