Where do they blow to?

Skybird - z5, Denver, ColoradoOctober 30, 2010

Hi all,

I wonder about this every year, but have never had time to post it here in order to benefit from the Wisdom of my fellow Rocky Mountain Gardeners!

It seems to me that almost every year after the leaves have begun to fall we get a couple good, strong winds, and most of the leaves in my yard blow away! But WHERE are they blowing to? If they're blowing out of MY yard, it stands to reason that they're blowing out of other peoples' yards too, but assuming they're not being taken, in some huge whirlwind, up into the Heavens, where do they wind up?

Is there somebody around here who invariably winds up with their yard filled up to the top of their 6' privacy fence with other peoples' leaves? Are there some great ditches out on the plains that fill up to the top with leaves every year? Do they, quite cooperatively, blow onto city compost piles here and there?

I KNOW where the tumbleweed winds up after a wind storm! Drive by any open field that has a fence by it, and it'll be stacked to the rafters with tumbleweed! But where are the leaves?

Digit, are they blowing up to you in Idaho? David, are they coming down to the southwest corner of our windy state? Dan, our resident weatherman, can you enlighten us as to where the winds are blowing them? The Bermuda Triangle???

Who around here can help my befuddled brain figure this out?

Where are all the leaves blowing to???


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I was always under the impression that the nocturnal leaf gnomes came out at night to gather the blown leaves and take them down to their burrows. Don't they make beds and dresses and stuff from them??

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 9:02PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

I think they go to the same mysterious place that the socks go to after doing the laundry!

Or maybe they are all going to the yard of the home we used to live in in Louisville. We had 2 small trees in our yard there, and somehow we always ended up with a yard full of lots and lots of leaves!! (or maybe it was that one suspicious looking tree across the street ...)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 9:06PM
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I think they all end up in my lawn. Actually, I kind of wish more would end up on my lawn so I could mulch mow them in and increase the organic content.

My guess is that they blow until they end up in a low spot and the wind passes over them or they get blocked somehow (a fence, thick shrubbery, or something along those lines). Then they sit there until they rot.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 11:46PM
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Look at this from the tree's perspective, Skybird.

As with any plant, a tree is busy with growth, reproduction and, with other perennials, preserving resources for survival thru the off-season. Reproduction seems to take precedence as it passes thru its natural cycle each year.

Fallen leaves are an important part the tree's efforts to create community but it is an exclusive community of relatives, offspring, or in some cases - clones. Fallen leaves are part of the tree's efforts to exclude other species.

So you see, from the tree's perspective -- it is no one's business but its own, what it does with those leaves.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 10:20AM
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david52 Zone 6

I'm thinkin' Dorothy and OZ.

But - I have to share my new discovery re cleaning leaves out of rain gutters. You take the top off a shop vac with those two clips, and using that handy attachment you could never figure out what to do with, hook up the rigid tube bits to the exhaust part, not the suction part, and you have yourself an electric leaf blower. Combine this with a 1&1/2 inch PVC elbow and some duct tape, and you can walk along around the house holding this up and blowing all the leaves out of the gutter!!!!

There are a couple caveats - first attempt was two elbows, and that didn't last too long because it was showering leaves and mud down on my head. Clouds of the stuff, and your kids will roll their eyes when they see your leaf and mud splattered face. And watch where you step. And, of course, even if the prevailing wind is from the west, and the western deciduous are bare but the southern deciduous still has leaves, the winds will shift from the south.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 10:32AM
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I think they blow to compost land and turn into humus rich black gold. Although a good amount got stuck in the trenches we (I mean my husband) dug prepping the retaining wall and I had to pick them out but I was glad to do something with only the use of one hand. I know where tumble weeds go to, our window wells!! and they get stuck in our fence after tumbling through out backyard spreading their spawnlings.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 11:31PM
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David - yet another use for the shop vac that is not listed on the owners manual. But now we have another mystery to to solve besides the leaves, how do you get mud in your rain gutters? Do you live in an earthen shelter??

I know the mystery of the tumbleweed, it takes them a full year to blow all the way around the world, that is why we only see them once a year.

If the leaves would just blow themselves into my yard, it sure would save me a lot of work going and finding them.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 12:54PM
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david52 Zone 6

Ah - we live on the north eastern edge of the Four Corners area, which is largely over-grazed desert. And every spring, we get dust storms that color the sky purple, and it all lands somewhere, including my metal roof, and it slowly migrates down into the rain gutters. And then, from what I can figure, the morning dew drips down and turns it all to mud. Also worth noting is that this isn't anything new, the best farm land around here is loess from thousands of years of accumulated desert dust.

We have had a couple of stiff-breeze days from different directions, and the yard went from nicely mowed and cleaned up to covered with leaves to now, they're pretty much gone into the borders. My big issue is getting a clear zone around the front porch, which inadvertently is the perfect design to trap any blowing detritus, and we have to sweep off the porch every few days or track every leaf or bit of torn paper into the house all winter.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2010 at 9:54AM
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My yard! I think the first year I posted in this forum I also posted a photo of the ridiculous snow dune in our yard, five feet high and not much of any snow in the neighbor's yard!!

Every wind storm, we get all the snow, dirt, trash, leaves and pine pollen from the whole town it seems. Really, we've even had the kiddie pool that blew around town, across the frozen reservoir, through town again and then settled in our yard.

Although, the lady one block over tells me that HER yard is the one that collects everything the town has to offer but I beg to differ.

So, keep your leaves to yourself :) Or, send your gnomes out my way so we can have a tidier yard.


    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 9:34PM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

The leaves here blow right into the corner fence section of the front yard. There's a tulip bed there from before I moved in. Leaves mound about 4 inches deep every fall and make compost. When I noticed how nice the soil was there, I dug it up and added more tulips and grape hyacinths. I don't clean it up, just let the leaves decompose and feed the bulbs. I don't rake any leaves here, the wind blows them in and out of here, except for that one section of fence that catches them.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 11:36AM
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dsieber(z5 (Lakewood CO))

I was waiting for the Maple tree in the front yard to drop all its leaves. There was a good collection of leaves on the ground but tonight's high winds have blown the remaining leaves off the tree and most of the leaves on the ground :)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 9:04PM
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david52 Zone 6

For those of us on the Western Slope, a word of caution when selecting trees to plant in your front/back yard.

Stay the heck away from Globe Willows, aka Navajo Willow.

Those things start shedding leaves in September, and continue shedding leaves until well past Thanksgiving. Then the tree moves into shedding small branch mode, which continues until spring.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 9:06AM
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Well David, at least you don't have to try and trim it. Self trimming, a lazy man's tree, other than the cleanup.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 10:22AM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Well, I don't know about the leaves, but I know where our patio furniture, gas grill and cat climber blew to on Monday!! To the side of our yard.

It must have been a whirlwind kind of thing because those were the only things the blew around and the small, light weight, gargoyle statue we have sitting up by our fence gate is still sitting in his same spot, while the heavy grill we had up to the side of the house must have completely moved off to the side and then flipped off of the patio. The patio furniture, made of rattan so not real heavy (but still), blew probably 20 ft. The cat climber we also had up against the house, but it was up on some cinder blocks so that one doesn't really surprise me too much.

Glad I had not swept our front porch the weekend before as I had planned to do, 'cause we certainly acquired a lot more that day! I always sweep the leaves there off into our front flower bed to use as mulch. Kinda handy actually :^)

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:06AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi guys,

I had planned to get back here to respond when I started this thread, but it's been so nice outside most of the time, I've been busy "exercising" in the backyard!

I LOVE the Leaf Gnome theory, MsFuzz---and I've been looking for those burrows ever since I read that that's where they might be going!

And if they're going to Missing Sock Heaven, Misty, there must be one humongous compost pile there with the socks!

BP, somehow I suspect there not making it QUITE all the way to you, but if they are, ENJOY!

Digit! Oh, Digit! Now I'm gonna have to learn how to speak Ent so I can ask the trees where they're going, huh?

I LIKE your theory about Oz, David! Will try to figure out how to visit--that shouldn't be so hard in Colorado--to see if I can find them "up" there!

Alice, if they're blowing somewhere to turn themselves into compost, I wish they'd figure out to blow back here to my yard when they're "done!"

Love your theory on the tumbleweed, Billie! I wonder if the people in China know where "those nasty things" are coming from when the blow by! I didn't get all of my neighbor's leaves this year! They got sneaky about them! I got about a dozen (big) bags when they had a kid come over and rake up the "first batch," but then when they raked up the last of them, they didn't put them out until after I went to bed, and the next morning the trash guys picked them up before I got up! At least I got the majority of them!

Jennifer, I think that kiddie pool should sign up for frequent flier miles!

Dsieber, all your leaves blowing away before you could rake them is what I was talking about when I started this thread! Are they with the Gnomes, or in Sock Heaven, or in Oz? I guess we'll never know for sure!

But I was actually kinda glad for the BIG wind we got on Monday, Misty! My neighbor on one side has a peach tree they planted from the pit of a store bought peach! Yeah! You can just about imagine what they get on that tree! Tiny, sickly looking little "peaches" that aren't much bigger than the pit itself---but they fall all over the place making a mess! Well, the leaves on that tree seem to hang on longer than the other trees around here, so after I had vacuumed--I mean cut--my grass for the last time to get up the last of the leaves, all the peach leaves fell down--most of them on my front lawn. I didn't plan to get the lawn mower back out, so I had just decided they'd have to stay there over winter, but then, along came that insane wind (glad it didn't last long) on Monday, and it blew almost all of them away again!

Where are they?????


    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 1:40AM
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david52 Zone 6

Speaking of blowing stuff - there is a big storm hitting here now, and I was down in ABQ at a youth soccer tournament and driving back this afternoon - there is a short-cut around Farmington, NM that cuts across the huge Navajo Nation irrigated farm, and just as I turned, the wind hit that right speed to dislodge tumbleweeds. Oh, boy. Did they have a bumper crop or what. By the time I got to the end of the road, the stack up against the far leeward fence was already encroaching onto the road, and I bet they'd had to close it. Anyway, 20 miles of 2 tumbleweeds a second hitting the car. Big ones. The kind that cowboys lament about with their harmonicas.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 7:44PM
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Hey David, that is pretty funny about the tumbleweeds. The only really huge ones I ever see are down in NM. I remember one of our trips to Tucson we had to pull into a gas station to pull the giant tumbleweed out of the front grill of our truck. (We have big trucks, Dodge 1-ton dually). We could see the tumbleweed over the grill while we were driving down the highway. Even watering them I can't get them to grow that big.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2010 at 11:41AM
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