Garden Chores to Get Done in the Fall

Garden & Lanscaping

PERENNIALS - If you cut back all of your perennials now, your garden will look bare and depressing. Winter interest can come from the conifers of course, but can also be provided by the pretty seedheads, and the form, structure and foliage of certain perennials. Good examples of these would be hydrangeas and ornamental grasses. Some birds will collect and eat the seed from your Echinacea and many will use the perennials that are left as cover and resting ground.

Having said this, there are perennials that do need to get cut back in the autumn – peonies, hosta, monarda are among those plants whose leaves turn black and/or turn to mush.

Perennials that are to be cut down for the winter should be cut down when they are dormant; usually this is after a couple of killing frosts (early November in Oakville). You don't want to cut anything down too early because you will be encouraging new growth if we have a warm spell and this can be dangerous for your plants. Plants should be cut back to within 2 or 3 inches of the ground.

LEAVES - Be sure to rake out any large leaves that tend to form a mat on your gardens and your lawn. I am thinking especially of those darn Norway maple leaves. You will be removing the potential for overwintering disease and insects (slugs!) in the spring.

GARDEN EVALUATION – The Fall is the perfect time to take a look around, see what is working and what isn't. In the spring you may not remember which plant is which. Take out the plants that are now too big. Share with a friend.

SHRUBS – Thin your shrubs now. I do leave my hydrangea bushes. I love the snow on the dead flowers. I do trim back my roses a little now with a more thorough pruning in the spring for both roses and hydrangea.

Finally, I do weed in the Fall. I like looking at my gardens free of weeds all through the winter. Let's face it, we are not getting as much snow as we used to so the weeds do not get covered up. And this reduces the number of spring chores somewhat. - Nancy Robertson

Did you know that Nancy Robertson is a certified Master Gardener and experienced landscape designer? Be sure to reach out if you have any questions about your landscaping and gardening plans. 

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