Tips for fall cleanups If you're tired of raking leaves, stop all that nonsense. A recent clip from the Ohio Outdoor Notebook, a regular environmental program produced by the Department of Natural Resources, had an interesting thought for fall yard cleanups.

Instead of raking leaves, try mowing them. Minced leaves, the program noted, return to the Earth between the blades to enrich the soil. Bagged lawn refuse can then be composted or used as organic mulch. Hear more here.

Or, you could compost the stuff... An ideal compost pile has a combination of nitrogen-rich material (grass) and carbon-rich material (leaves). Cut grass and minced leaves would be a nice start to a pile. Just make sure there's not too much grass - the primary reason piles start to smell.

If you didn't catch my primer on starting a compost pile in an urban area, click here.

ODNR photo

Looking for a fall retreat? ODNR has a great plug for the Lodge at Geneva, a beautiful rustic hotel located smack dab on Lake Erie about 50 miles east of Cleveland. Local attractions include: hiking and biking at Geneva State Park; fishing on the lake; and tours of nearby wineries.

Check out the homepage and video here.

My family has a small lake house in Saybrook, about five miles down the road from Geneva; I can vouch for the beauty and serenity of the region. Geneva has a small drag of summer attractions that has closed for the season, but heading there as the weather turns would mean a more romantic, evenings-in getaway.