Viewing my townhouse garden yesterday, I noticed, I was the ONLY one (within my block of units) that hadn't removed nearly every leaf fallen to the ground. I can't help but worry about this - no seed heads for birds, no winter textural interest. I pride myself when a bird perches on a Rudbeckia or Echinacea seed head.
|Having a Gleditsia (Honey Locust) shading much of my garden, I get a lot of tiny leaf litter everywhere. Most of it I compost, but not all of it.
|Looking over the fence, my tidy neighbours have done a great job winterizing their garden.
|The other neighbour has removed every leaf and perennial bit possible. (So grateful for tidy neighbours!) I look like the mess maker.
So here, instead - I've made a list of perennials I would cut back and others I would leave.
Airy, loose Grasses
(or any plant that seeds itself everywhere, or goes mushy and unsightly)
Ground Covers like: Vinca, Hedera, Lamium...
(or any sturdy plant that has evergreen foliage, or growth that remains upright and can withstand snow)
|Before and after. My compromise. I've left anything that still looks alright. Hard to believe it's a month away til Christmas!
|I can't imagine removing any perennial that still looks this good.
|Perennial fall colours are key to keep interest. A little leaf litter will compost down by April.
The best advice I can give when it comes to fall clean up, is not cutting back everything. Decide first:
- What plants require litter layer so they can properly overwinter.
- If you don't know which plants die back to mush, wait til heavy frosts wilt down foliage.
- Clean up now anything that looks like it may be too much work to do in the spring.
- Determine what may cause insect problems next summer.
- Leave any plant that gives you interest overwinter. Think of birds, and textures you would like to see in the bleakness of February.
* Yet, do remember: cutting back perennials in autumn can make you forget where they are come spring. If necessary divisions or renovations of the beds are planned for spring, leaving evidence behind can make life easier for you come job time.
|Sad time of year...but at least I can enjoy what's left.