Garden clean-up

luvtosharedivsSeptember 30, 2007

I'm curious as to when you all do you garden clean-up chores....Fall or Spring....or some of both.

I'm trying to do more in the Fall lately, rather than wait until Spring, especially with the Cone flowers, and Rudbeckias. I have quite enough of them, and I don't need them to show off their winter interest, spreading their seeds all over my garden where I don't want them!

I'm cutting back spent perennials to about 6", and it's interesting to view the changing contours of the garden, revealing more of the Fall blooming plants. Gives new depth to my gardens. I still have some Phlox blooming, but others have turned ugly and mildewy, so down they come, along with brown Lily stalks, Daylily scapes, and anything else that has turned brown.

However, I leave the Hostas die down on their own. They are all in different stages of still green to golden to completely brown.....very interesting color changes.

Any comments?


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Julie, it sounds like we are similiar in clean up methods. I pull daylily stalks, cut back some of the brown, ratty tops off others but after that I leave most things till spring. It provides natural mulch. It also helps me remember where everything is as well as provide some winter snacks for the birds. I don't mind seedlings since I can use them in my annual spring sale. Most of my hosta are new so I need to leave the leaves to remember where they were!! Hopefully they will all be back in spring!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 8:06AM
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daddylonglegs(z5 WI)

I've been following a little here and a little there approach lately. With the kids involved in so many things, I need to pick my moments, they are typically brief.
One thing I did do late summer was prune back the nasty looking stuff. I don't know why I haven't done that before, sure looks better.
When those odd 60-70 degree days hit in November, it gives me an excuse to get outside and do a little more.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 1:21PM
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aka_margo(z5a WI)

I am usually so burned out on gardening that I leave most of my clean up for spring. Except, like above, those unusually warm days in November I like to get out and clean up some of the stuff. I did cut down a lot of my plants that have a tendency to reseed themselves all over my yard, like Joe Pye Weed and Plume Poppy.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 1:40PM
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I actually cut back alot of plants that were done about a month ago.

Like the others, I'm worn out and prefer to leave almost everything until spring. I still have to dig up my callas and cannas (last year we dug up 3 bushels of cannas!) But I will, like Julie, cut down ugly stuff if it is covering up my mums or asters. I cut my delphiniums down about 8 weeks or so ago and they are now giving me another albeit smaller display. I definitely leave any with seed heads for the birds (like coneflowers, etc.).

I like to leave my hostas alone because the dead scapes help me to find them in the spring AND because I worry about the spread of possible HVX (Hosta Virus X)by cutting them back and with over 300 hosta plants, I don't want to have to wipe my bypass pruners with bleach in between each plant. So much easier to just grab dead leaves/scapes in the spring!


    Bookmark   October 1, 2007 at 5:54PM
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I only cut down my phlox in late Fall. I do some cleanup with my daylilies, but not a lot. I can't pull an annual out if it's still blooming. Most of them still have blooms in November. My main cleanup is in Spring. When we get some nice days I'm out there cleaning. After the winter I love seeing the plants start to wake up.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 2:56AM
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One year I saved clean up for spring and regretted it. Cleaning up in fall means I limit how much I step on the soft soil in spring, plus, I don't risk damaging newly emerging plants. In addition to that, perennials don't do much for me as far as winter interest is concerned. I have two dogs, so a pristine snow covered yard doesn't last long, then add dead perennials sticking out of the snow and the yard looks like a complete mess.

I burned out early this year, and did very little from Mid June on except weed and water. This past weekend I finally spent time in the garden. I cut back the worse, got rid of the tired annuals, and reflected on the hot, dry summer. I came to the conclusion that I need more drought tolerant shade plants and less water-needy ones. The french lilacs that look good for only a short period of time in spring and barely have a scent, the common hostas, and the PM prone coneflowers are going this weekend.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 7:56PM
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pondwelr(z5 WI)

Due to health problems, I now have a landscaping co. come in and do a monthly weeding and stuff. Other minor things I can manage on my own. So the foreman asked me if I wanted my perennials cut back and I said no. I will do some cutting on my own, but for the most part, leave it all standing. Some years snow cover is sparce, and having stems and twigs standing helps to collect and hold the snow.
After the first heavy ground frost, I will cut and trim a little. I really like the natural look of gardens left alone.
The whole idea is one of personal preference, isnt it?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 4:50PM
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What interesting responses everyone!

There are so many factors involved, including how much time and energy a person has! One thing I'm trying to do (that I didn't do up until a couple of years ago), is to cut stems in pieces and drop them right there in the garden, instead of carrying everything off to the compost pile. Of course I don't leave anything that looks diseased in the garden. I have lots of wooded areas around the edges of my yard, so I throw everything there that I don't want in my compost heap. (Iris leaves for example).

I like to leave all my Sedum standing, unless they have flopped. I have also been experimenting leaving some Chrysanthemum stems standing, adding oak leaves among them after the ground freezes. And of course I leave Graziella grasses and Variegated Reed grass as long as I can.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 5:21PM
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After most of the perennials have died, it makes it easier to see any remaining weeds, which are picked out quickly.
Then, I leave those perennials which may add textural interest during our long Wisconsin winters: Siberian iris seedpods, dried hydrangea, perennial heliotrope.
I pull out hosta leaves and lily of the valley leaves--things which may encourage slugs.

Boy, it's been a long time since I posted here!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 12:38PM
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Perennial heliotrope??? Boy, Denise--we really have to get together!


    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 10:20AM
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