What to Do in the Fall

Leaving healthy plant material in place is best for birds, insects, and the plants, themselves.

Plants have evolved to continue their species without human intervention. And fauna have evolved to take advantage of plant material that naturally remains in place during the winter months.

For the health of your garden and your local ecology, you can follow these steps to “winterize” your garden:

1. Remove any diseased stems and leaves and discard in trash, not compost.

2. Leave healthy plants with visual winter interest or ecological benefit as they are.

Examples include:
Upright Sedums
Coneflowers and Black Eyed Susans

3. Leave healthy daylily and iris leaves in place until they brown, then discard in trash.

4. When soil is frozen to 2″ in depth, mound compost or mulch around certain plants. (For most plants having mulch against the stem can cause the plant and its roots to rot.)

These plants include: 
Those recently planted that haven’t had a chance to develop root systems
Those marginally hardy in your area
Those whose roots may be exposed by freeze and thaw cycles

5. Remove weeds.

6. Water well.


If you can’t stand the casual look of a winter garden, cut most plants down to an inch. Exceptions include: certain vines such as Clematis (look up your particular variety for care instructions), and perennials with woody stems such as Caryopteris, ITOH peonies, Montauk daisies, and Lavender. These should be cut back according to plant type.

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