Summertime has peaked and it's time to start thinking about the fall cleanup in the garden. Fallen leaves, that is. Every year it happens, and if you're anything like me, you're not ready.

Raking, shredding, mulching, and composting are all a part of fall. Trees are great, and leaves are also, but eventually they shed their leaves and it is time to pick them up.

There are a number of things that can be done with leaves. They can be bagged and sent off to … somewhere. They can be shredded with some new fancy leaf shredder or leaf mulcher. They can be composted or turned into leaf mold. Any number of things can be done with the leaves in the fall.

The first thing is raking leaves. Unless you plan to leave them where they fall, raking is a necessary evil. A good leaf rake with a wide business end will make short work of a long job. I like to have a couple of central locations where I can stage my leaves for later-procrastination at its finest.

Wander about the lawn with a rake, gathering all the leaves that have fallen. This really should be done on a day that is not very windy. Re-raking is even less fun than raking the first time.

You probably should've decided what you were planning on doing with the leaves before this point. I normally take a nice break after I have 5 or 6 big leaf piles, and start thinking about it.

Should I shred the leaves?

That's a definite possibility but I never did buy a leaf shredder. Those are brightly colored buckets, attached to shredding doohickeys which make short work of leaves. I'm not sure why the buckets are brightly colored but apparently this is how it has to be.

But What if I want a Leaf Mulcher?

Sorry but they're basically the same thing. Sort of a low powered chipper shredder that'll shred up dried leaves. Dried leaves are really easy to shred but doing it by hand can take a while. I'm sure you can buy both, but they do the same job. Just pick one and have at it.

Can I Shred My Leaves With My Lawnmower?

Yup. This is how I do it most of the time. I just put my bag attachment on my mower, and my final mows are grass and leaves mixed. You can't make leaf mold with this stuff though, it'll become garden compost. Garden compost is good but leaf mold has its place in the garden also. Leaf mold is great for starting seeds, for example.

You need to have some piles of dedicated leaf mold leaves to make leaf mold. You don't want to leave the piles in the middle of the yard though. Move them to an inconspicuous corner so they can rot for a couple years.

You can use shredded or un-shredded leaves to make leaf mold. Un-shredded ones just take a bit longer. I like to play with my lawnmower, so I normally go with the shredded leaves.

There you go. The low-down on leaf picking upping. I'm not into leaf blowers so if you want to learn about those, shoo. They blow the leaves elsewhere.