Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fall clean-up tips

Fall, beautiful, but labor intensive.  At least in the case of having beautiful garden beds, lots of old established trees dropping their leaves, and the perennials dying back.

My motto has always been " touch it once."
Therefore, I wait until after the first frost to cut back my perenniels.  Then I cut them down to about 3 " above ground level. I rake out the beds, trying to get all of the acorns I can, so the small trees with one leaf and a 6" tap root don't have to be pulled in the spring.  Then I shred my leaves and use them as a winter mulch.  Over the winter they break down as they protect the plants from the freeze and thaw process.

Any plants that had insect problems are thoroughly cleaned up and all the debris is removed so as not to reinfect the plant in the spring.

I have always tried to include plants that have at least 3 season interest, whether it is the branch structure and interesting bark, berries that hang on for color, or evergreens.  Including these along with decorative grasses add structure and interest to the winter landscape.  I also supplies the birds with nesting sites for the cooler season.

Speaking of the birds, I usually put my feeders out once most of the berries have disappeared and the frost had taken care of the insects.  Then I provide a variety of feeders and seed to attract a wide variety of birds.
They are a delight to watch for both myself and Sweetie our cat!  And then in the spring they usually stay, and that takes care of alot of the natural pests in the summer.  I think of it as a give and take proposition.
It is also important to make sure they always have clean water near a source of protection, such as a tree or shrub. I t gives them security when the neighbors let their cats roam.

This is also the time of the year when I do a light fertilizing of hollytone on all of my evergreens, such as hollies, azalias, camelias, ferns, and rhodies.  You will be amazed at what a difference all of this prep will do for the looks of your gardens throughout the winter, as well as spring which will arrive in a few months time.

And don't forget to put in some pots and baskets for winter color.  It will be great at your entryways.  Very welcoming for your guests, and truly not alot of maitenance.

With a little planning, your garden will look wonderful all year long.  The other day I heard a wonderful saying I would like to quote  "A little digging in the dirt buries alot of troubles"  So true!

Happy gardening....Donna

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