Rethinking stance on Fall clean up

schoolhouse_gwApril 12, 2014

I've often said here that I wait until Spring to do my clean up of the gardens, that is cutting back spent stalks and general maint.. Because besides being burned out by Oct. I enjoy the snow covered foliage and the snow protection and maybe seed heads for birds.

Well last Fall I wrote that I was going to do the opposite and with my last bit of energy try doing all the work then. I did, and I must say it is pretty nice to not face that chore today. And as far as the plants, it seems they came through ok. All I had to do this morning was rake some fallen leaves (not the leaf mulch) out of the pathways and corners. Late daylilys still have old foliage to be cut off but for the most part I'm ready for the season in regards to clean up.

Don't get me wrong, I still like to see a winter garden, but maybe the older I get the better I can see the advantage of less work in the Spring.

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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

I remember that post of yours! I wish I had done the same. I have so many chores facing me this week (school break). Ugh.

I bow to your brilliance, schoolhouse! :)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 6:29PM
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schoolhouse_gw

LOL!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 7:20PM
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plantladyco

I'm 70 this Spring....and wish I had done that last Fall!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 11:36AM
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schoolhouse_gw

My Mom always has done her clean up in the Fall.

I still need to vacuum the leaves from the stone floor of the courtyard. The older privet hedge there holds its foliage so much longer than the hedge I planted - well into early winter. Must be an heirloom variety if there is such a thing in Privet.

Also need to shred 8 bags of tree leaves which I never got around to doing last Fall. The kids who I pay to rake and bag them (not from my property) didn't get around to bringing them until near the end of November. I may not need anymore this Fall. Wish I had a leaf shredder that you put bags under and just feed the leaves into and the shredded material drops in the bag. I use a blower/vac and can only stand that for short periods until my back is killing me and I have to take a break. Tried the lawn mower a couple times but just as time consuming and not too good for the mower I think.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 4:38PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

My former mother-in-law had a small shredder that just blew out the shredded leaves onto her garden or wherever she aimed it. It was so cool. I wish I had paid closer attention to the manufacturer. Of course, this was in the 70s, so I probably would never be able to find one like it now that I really want one!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:15PM
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luckygal(3b)

Well, I cleaned up my garden late August as due to the summer drought many perennials were going to seed and it looked terrible. I had them all weed whacked and raked the entire garden. The rains came and everything regrew and looked wonderful and no more clean up seemed necessary. Of course now that the snow has gone all those leaves that looked so lovely and green in October just before the snow are now all brown and I need to do a full spring clean up!

Nothing I could have done to ensure less work while still having a nice looking garden but sure do not want to have to do both fall *and* spring clean up every year!

While I'd love to have a shredder for twigs I only rake leaves onto perennial beds and they disappear quite quickly.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 11:43AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I'm definitely a spring cleanup gal, last year I was laid up for most of the year so this year's spring cleanup is quite a chore. But I have to tell you when I'm out there weeding, cutting down spent flower stalks, seeing the fresh new growth emerging from the soil it still gives me a thrill.

I'm 76, a gal who's glass is always half full no matter what, always looking for a new challenge. The last few years I've become interested in heirloom vegetables, beans in particular so being I don't have a large garden veggies are mixed amongst the flowers, cottage style.

My balance still isn't great so I drag my sitting kneeling stool into the garden and sit while weeding, it works like a hot ****. I had my DH make me a great little balancing/getting up and down tool out of a D-handle replacement handle with a piece of rebar pounded in the end. He sharpened the end so when I have to get in amongst things I can shove it in the ground, stand steady, bend, kneel down and get up without stepping on or trampling things.

I have never been a fall cleanup person, like to leave the seed pods for the birds. We have such unpredictable winters here sometimes warm enough you can go outside with just a sweater on, other winters we're in the deep freeze, sometimes we have good snow coverage, sometimes none.
I like to think leaving the cleanup until spring is also helping protect the plants from sudden temperature changes or that's one of my many excuses :).

I was using a walker until the end of February but I've tossed that aside now, when there's a will there's a way is my motto LOL.
My greenhouse is full to the brim of things just waiting for the weather to warm up a bit, just to feel the warm sun on my back is such a treat, life is good.

Annette

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 12:51PM
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koszta_kid(Iowazone 5)

I'm glad did lot more fall clean up. With extra cold temps. DS and DH took snow blower to cover flower beds more. I think it helped. People I know who didn't lost a lot of plants. Still have some clean up-having corn field next to us. And Dh gave birds a lot to eat.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:46PM
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schoolhouse_gw

Our snow seemed to stay forever. Not only does it protect but that extra moisture will be appreciated come July. In fact, there is snow in our forecast tomorrow. :(

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:26PM
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lavender_lass(4b)

Here, fall clean up means deer buffet in the winter! LOL

Spring clean up means that there are plants left to enjoy in the spring...

That being said, I'm glad it worked out so well for you, Schoolhouse! It must be nice to enjoy your garden and start planting, without all the clean up :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:17PM
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ravensfan52(6)

I always do my fall cleanup because spring garden time is always spent mulching and planting. On Saturday I spread 17 bags of mulch by hand, on my knees, so none of the emerging plants would be wrongly covered. I ran out of mulch on Sun and still have to buy around 15 more bags tomorrow. The physical labor of "lovingly" mulching everything costs my back and legs at least 3 days rest afterwards, no way I have the energy to do a full clean up with raking first! But the feeling at looking at a well mulched garden brimming with new growth...priceless!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 8:00PM
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schoolhouse_gw

Oh ravensfan52, you poor kid. I can feel your pain. Bayer Back and Body works great.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 9:15PM
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charleney(8a PNW)

Aftermidnight....The D handle is a fabulous idea. I had to pay to keep mine just barely clean. I was down for over two years with a botched hip surgery. I think I will have my blacksmith hubby make me one of those. Even though, I am up and around, a lot of my gardens are sloping, and a little scary. Thanks for the great idea!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 1:33PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Char- Although I'm sure your hubby won't need instructions here's a picture of mine, it's getting a lot of use this morning :). Annette

    Bookmark   April 22, 2014 at 3:02PM
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midnightsmum (Z4, ON)

I always left my plants in place for the Winter for interest and to hold the snow. Didn't really need it last Winter, we got soooo much snow. Annette - I love your prop!! I am trying to figure out what I am going to use in the garden this year. Kneeling is definitely out and should have been for the last couple of years. I've seen a couple of those kneeler/seats which look OK, but i also saw people using those large food-grade buckets to sit on! Maybe with a tool like yours I could kneel then get up better.

Nancy.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:50PM
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Michaela .:. thegarden@902 .:. (Zone 5b - Iowa)

See I'm glad I was lazy last fall & didn't do much clean up. I was burned out from the summer and just kind of left everything alone. It was really nice to have so much yardwork to do when I was anxious to start gardening but it was too cold in zone 5 to do anything. Made me feel like I was able to start gardening in March!!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 12:08AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I will never do the work early. Never again. I lost far too many plants by doing the entire cleanup in mid-February. The house next door had been sold and the new neighbors arrived and made a few comments. I didn't want them to be upset so I went through the whole yard and did my hard cutback on everything. Big, big, BIG mistake. Never again. As I well know, the dead parts of plants protect the remainder of the plant. Opening woody stems to rain and elements and bugs makes it further susceptible. I lost plants I have never lost in the past and I am sure would have not lost otherwise. I will never clean the yard early again for anybody. Come March, they will get over it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 8:14PM
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schoolhouse_gw

My perennials have never looked better with the exception of the eons old candytuft in one border. And the weirdest thing is I never cut it back last Fall - in fact I never cut it back. I just think the snow lay too much and too long on some things. I ended up trimming it tho and there is new growth already.

The shrubs had the roughest time, and not just the boxwood. I wish I would have had the foresight to not hard prune the privet hedge back in the summer. My courtyard lost it's wind screen I'm certain. Should have waited until Feb. like I did with the tall privet hedge along the road in 2012. But geeze, there was snow and below temps this Feb! no way could I have gone out and done all that work.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:57AM
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davids10 z7a nv.

fall or spring cleanup some years one--some years the other-twice recently ive done cleanup with the hedge trimmers and then run the mulching mower over it-scalped the philadelphus argento marginata but even it came back-you followed up on my white party pic heres the garden today

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:27AM
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ravensfan52(6)

Wow, that looks like a Monet painting! Amazing combos!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:45AM
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schoolhouse_gw

ravensfan, you have described it well. There is even a small lily pond? All you need is a mini Japanese bridge.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 3:59PM
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schoolhouse_gw

Just a note in regards to the Fall cleanup. The one disappointment this Spring is the Anenomes. Those did not come back as well as in the past when I left the stalks. Now I'm not sure if that is the cause or just the harsher than usual winter, or their age; but I'm worried.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 4:04PM
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Cenepk10(7B)

Goodness, David's 10 !!!!! That should be in a coffee table book !!!!! So gorgeous !!!!!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:10PM
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Cenepk10(7B)

Goodness, David's 10 !!!!! That should be in a coffee table book !!!!! So gorgeous !!!!!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:11PM
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Cenepk10(7B)

I have to clean up in the fall. We get no snow to speak of... Everything's out in the open ! Not pretty staring down dead looking plants...

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 5:15PM
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