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To clean or not to clean, that is the question. How often do we have the luxury of any doubt in the cleaning department? When it comes to the Fall garden it really amounts to personal preference. As buckets of leaves fall, perennials die back, and annuals die and sow seed the garden obviously takes on a very different character.
It is entirely appropriate to cut back all perennials, pull your annuals, prune trees and shrubs that require fall pruning and rake out your beds this time of year. If you do that, make sure to put down a nice layer of mulch, perhaps an inch. I like to use a mixture of aged steer or chicken manure and composted sawdust. Traditional garden and kitchen compost is great too.
Another option is to wait until late February or even early March to cut everything back and mulch. If you do this it is still a good idea to do fall pruning on trees and shrubs.. The advantage to this is that you will leave a better habitat for insects and birds during the winter time. Just yesterday I noticed a fat Bushtit enjoying the seeds of a spent Hosta as pictured. I wonder if he will spread the seeds around? One way or another they are unlikely to germinate. Just make sure you get to it before the plants break bud and start pushing up new growth.
Many people will not want the mess of seeing leaves and dead branches laying about their garden during the holidays and winter months. However, if you can tolerate it you might even enjoy the interesting shapes of seed pods melting slowly under our rains or the changing colors and shapes of old leaves turning from golden to brown to skeletal over the winter. If you do, just make sure that you get out on President’s Day weekend and give everything a good thorough cleaning for the upcoming growing season.
If you don’t want to do either, then give us a call and we’ll help any time of year.