Can I start cutting things back yet?

elleni(4a)September 17, 2008

I know it is early to start the Fall clean up, but I would like to open things up to start planting my Spring bulbs soon. I'd also like to clear the way to Round-Up several mini trees and suckers from that old rose bush while they are still growing. It is mainly Irises and Lady's Mantle that I'd like to cut back. I also have Lilies, tall Balloon Flowers, Moonbeam Coreopsis, purple Coral Bells and Autumn Joy Sedum in the same area, but I will leave most of those standing over the Winter. So, is it ok to cut my Irises and Lady's Mantle now?

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I cut my iris back 2 weeks ago to divide them, I do it most every year and they are fine. I don't have Lady's Mantle right now, so no experience there...

Good luck, Helen.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 9:35PM
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Thanks heleninramsey. The irises are sheltering a few ash saplings and some sneaky rose suckers, so I'll get them trimmed down this weekend and get going with the Round-up. Unfortunately, there are ash saplings in my Magnolia shrub and one of my Peonies! I'll plan on using newspaper and plastic bags to shield them from the Round-up.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Hi, elleni, I don't wish to seem critical or start a controversy, but aren't there safer and more garden/earth-friendly alternatives to toxic chemicals like Round-Up? Here's a URL if you're interested.

Again, a friendly suggestion.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 9:36AM
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Yes, Gary, I know Round-up is nasty stuff and normally would not use it. When I do, I try to be very selective. I just can't have trees growing in the middle of my garden beds!

The beds are full, so by time I see the darn things they are 3 feet or more and impossible to pull. They are even tough to pull at 5 inches. For some of them digging is a painful possibility, but where they have come up in the middle of shrubs, etc. I am just not sure what to do.

For common weeds, I use vinegar-based solutions-- on creeping charlie and penny wort, etc., but recently I just let those go as they are at least *some kind* of ground cover! ;-) I will occasionally pull dandelions, clover and crab grass (I think it's crab grass) with some satisfaction.

I am open to more earth-friendly suggestions for getting rid of my Ash saplings and rose suckers.

However I try to rid my beds of these things, I'll need to clear the way first to see what's going on.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 10:14AM
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I hear you! I have a ton of elm and other tree seedlings to remove every season. You're right, pulling them is often out of the question, especially the elms. What works for me is my good sharp pruning shears. I try to cut a few inches down in the soil on the ones that have eluded my notice and grown large. Would work easily on rose suckers.

Now you've piqued my curiosity: what is your vinegar-based solution for dealing with creeping charlie, etc.?

Thanks, GaryStPaul

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 12:26PM
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Check the link below, this is the stuff, I even think this is where I bought it. It has to be hot and sunny to work best! But it just burns the leaves up! BurnOut II contains: Clove oil, Sodium Laurel Sulphate, Vinegar, Lechithin, Water, Citic Acid and Mineral Oil, in varying proportions according to the product, RTU or Concentrate

It seems the natural killers just kill the leaves, but I do not think they really get into the whole system of the plant to kill the roots. Fine with little weeds, but I don't think the saplings are going to give in that easy.

It would be easier to cut the saplings-- no covering and protecting the other good plants from the spray, but I am worry it won't do the trick.

Don't you find cutting the saplings just brings them back thicker later? I have one that is at the edge of one bed that I remember snipping with the pruners (just above ground) either early this year or sometime last and it now has TWO branches coming from the 1/2" (??) "stump". Darn!!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: BurnOut Weed & Grass Killer

    Bookmark   September 19, 2008 at 12:43PM
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Thanks, elleni, appreciate the info. As far as the saplings are concerned, when I cut them a few inches below the soil line they don't for the most part return. But I don't get them that way they do hang around and throw up a couple of new branches, yes (grrrr). GaryStPaul

    Bookmark   September 25, 2008 at 6:23AM
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I started my garden cleanup today and used your suggestion for removing my many Ash saplings. I recorded my progress. I'm not sure that I got down far enough to do the job. In the picture (linked), you can see the old, above the soil line cuts from earlier seasons that just sprouted new branches. What do you think?



Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 10:49PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

Another trick that works well for buckthorn is to cut down close to the ground and then cover the stump with a can. If the stump gets no light- it will not grow. That trick might work well for other non suckering saplings.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 10:16AM
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That is a good idea. I should be able to use that trick in most areas. Unfortunately, I have one stubborn one coming up right in the middle of a Peony! In the last two years, before the suggestions here, I just clipped it down as low to the crow on the Peony as I could. Now it has FOUR branches coming from the little stump! Not sure what to do about that one.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 3:41PM
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