Apr
16

What Style of Fall Clean-up Is Best For You?

By CoolGardenThings


When I had you / Dok sam te imao
Photo by lepiaf.geo (better off slipping into blur)
In November in Michigan it is time to put your garden to sleep for the winter. There are perhaps three different approaches to this and each one has its advantages and disadvantages to consider.

The “tidy clean-up” basically cuts every plant-except woody herbs and shrubs- to with-in an inch of it’s life and removes every ounce of dead plant matter with-in a mile. This method looks very clean. Reminiscent of your living room after the maid service leaves. This technique will ensure that very few diseased leaves are left behind to infect next years plants.It may also help hinder the slug and pest population. The cons of this technique outweigh the pros, because by removing all plant matter you have also removed all the vital nutrients the decomposing plant matter provides. You have also removed the winter protection and that plant matter provides for roots. Which means that you will have to add expensive fertilizers and amendments to your garden to make up for this. More expensive and less healthy for your garden this technique is not the best approach to a healthy garden.

The next approach to fall clean up is perhaps a balance between vacuuming your beds and the doing nothing approach-this is what I call the “High/low maintenance” approach. Low maintenance does not mean no maintenance, though. Think of low maintenance as meaning less work in the spring, but still a good work out in the garden this weekend and probably next week end too. In this approach one would remove dead annual plants,sprinkling the seeds as you go. These should germinate if you don’t use preen in your garden. Proceed to cut down your perennial plants to two thirds with the exception of woody herbs and shrubs. You do not want to touch those until the spring when all danger of frost is past. Leave seed heads on some of your native plants and grasses for the birds for the winter. If you cut down your grass leave about one foot to provide winter protection. Rake out the beds and remove all of the cuttings and most of the leaves that have come down from the trees. Use a blower and blow leaves onto your lawn and mulch those with a mower. Mulching the last of the autumn leaves into your lawn keeps things looking tidy and is like free fertilizer for your grass. Supposedly oak leaves mulched into the lawn are a weed inhibitor. Encourage you lawn care people to mulch leaves as much as they are able to. You may need to bury some of your tree roses. You may want to put some wilt spray on your rhododendrons in December as well as build some burlap houses for them. But don’t let burlap touch the plants. You can leave them be, but taking the extra time to protect rhododendrons, roses and hydrangeas will give you more flowers next year.

The third approach to winter preparation is the “no maintenance” approach. The pro of this technique is you can just be lazy and nature will pretty much tuck all of your garden in naturally for the winter. The con’s of doing nothing now are that your neighbors will hate you for your messy yard and you will have a lot to do in the spring at a time when lots of plants are starting to peek through the debris. These plants and bulbs are very tender in the spring and will get mangled as you tear through the beds with your rake and pruning shears. Not only that, but the soil in the spring is at it’s most vulnerable time and stepping in the beds now will compress it terribly and prevent the tender roots of plants from growing at their best. Also remember that many weeds will continue to grow through the winter so if you did not pull them out they will have grown stronger.

What ever your clean-up approach be sure to put away your garden decor for the winter as you don’t want it to get ruined. Also remember to clean out your bird feeders and stock up on bird seed before the snow falls so you can sit back and watch the animals in your garden while it sleeps.

Each individual gardener has their own preferences of how to tackle their garden before winter comes.This article is intended to be a guide to help you decide which approach is best for you.Good luck and many blooms to you!

Originally posted 2009-12-03 15:47:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

-- Weather When Posted --

  • Temperature: 42°F;
  • Humidity: 60%;
  • Heat Index: 42°F;
  • Wind Chill: 35°F;
  • Pressure: 29.8 in.;

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