Traditional garden management has dictated a fall clean up of planting beds as a way to tidy and prepare for spring. However, this approach can actually create more overall work for you and has several environmental downsides. Leaving your plants standing is a big part of rethinking how we can tend a more sustainable landscape in autumn and all year round. Here are five reasons why you shouldn't cut back your garden in fall and what to do instead.
If you allow desirable species to self sow and fill in, you'll get free plants that can cover the ground and combat weeds, increase soil moisture, reduce erosion, improve soil, and so much more. If you cut down and clean up flower heads in fall, you'll lose that free source of seeds. Of course, you may want to deadhead aggressive plants that are too prolific, but if that’s the case, removing and replacing that plant altogether may be the lower-maintenance option for you.
Those flower heads filled with seeds are bird food in winter. No need to stock a bird feeder when you have lots and lots of plants with lots and lots of seed heads, as well as the seeds that fall to the ground to forage. Leaving plants standing until spring also gives birds cover from predators and shelter during winter storms, not to mention other wildlife who need the same protection.
Don't worry about seeds from your plants attracting vermin. These types of animals don't eat seeds; they prefer food waste in our trash.
Standing plant stems and grasses hold a decent amount of moisture in winter. If your neighborhood is prone to urban flooding, leaving your plants standing keeps more rainfall (or snowfall) from quickly running off because all that plant material holds onto the moisture. Shrubs and
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Garden enthusiasts often seek organic solutions for pest management, particularly for combating slugs that damage their plants. A nature-friendly and delightful tactic is to encourage hedgehogs to take up residence in our gardens. These quaint, spiky mammals are known to feast on slugs and assist in sustaining the ecological equilibrium of our garden spaces. Yet, before taking steps to make your garden a sanctuary for hedgehogs, it is vital to consider some ethical and practical factors, especially regarding whether your garden is a closed-off area or is accessible.
We’re back with more from Susan Esche’s visit to the beautiful University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in Vancouver in early September. It is open to the public and has many different sections and types of gardens to explore.
Among all the hobbies you could choose to engage in during your free time, gardening should definitely be top of that list. The therapeutic feel and connection with nature you get to experience even while enjoying the fruits of your labour is one of its enticing perks. But all this might just be an added advantage if you're focused on the beautiful landscapes and serenity it creates.
Perennials are plants that live at least two seasons, and some can live for many years. Home gardeners often cut back perennials in fall, but not every perennial needs to be cut back, so it’s good to know what perennials to cut back in fall. Or, more particularly, what perennials not to cut back in fall. Read on for the information on fall pruning.
Horse manure makes an extremely good soil improver for the garden. Often combined with stable bedding and allowed to rot down for a couple of years, horse manure is perfect for digging into planting holes or spreading onto the surface of bare soil. Fresh manure mustn’t be used directly on the garden as it can actually remove nutrients from the soil and scorch plants, but it can be added to compost heaps.
Q: I have a beautiful Clematis montana that I planted in my garden many years ago, but it’s now got too large and is threatening to pull down an old garden fence. Can I prune it back hard without damaging the plant? AL, Co Longford
Fall is a great time for garden chores. This is the time to clean up before winter, protect vulnerable plants, and wind down the growing season. This isn’t the right time for all tasks, though. Know what to do with your garden in the fall and what not to do — for instance, what plants should not be cut back in the fall — to best prepare it for next year.
Take a tour of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and discover a meeting ground of natural beauty, expert design, and horticultural excellence. Nestled in the picturesque landscape of coastal Maine, this garden offers a symphony of colors, fragrances, and serene vistas that will surely captivate any nature enthusiast. In this video, director of horticulture (and frequent Fine Gardening contributing writer) Andy Brand takes us on a journey through three of his favorite gardens and gives insights as to what makes them unique. This tour barely scratches the surface of what CMBG has to offer, however, with its more than 300 acres and 16 unique gardens connected by well-maintained paths and trails. You can spend days at the garden and still find something new.
REDUCING THE footprint of our lawns has been a key environmental message for gardeners in recent years, since lawns lack biodiversity and involve huge amounts of pollution between fertilizers, herbicides, and the gas used in mowing. But what to cultivate instead? That is the subject of a nearly 15-year native lawn research project at Cornell Botanic Gardens in Ithaca, New York, with some interesting insights.
Q: Now that it’s late autumn, my dahlias are starting to die back. Can I leave the plants in the ground or do I need I lift the tubers and store them in my shed for the winter? I’d much prefer the first option if possible! MD, Kilkenny
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