As fall approaches, and changing tree leaves, asters, goldenrods and chrysanthemums start to provide the final blast of color for the year, here are some things to consider as you get ready to put your gardens to rest for the winter.
Life goes on in the fallen leaves
Many beneficial insects drop eggs on the ground, where they develop into larvae in the leaf litter for development into moths and other critters next year. If you remove the leaves, or chop them up into fine pieces, you may be killing them, either directly or indirectly. Please leave the leaves. Let them decompose and enrich your lawn, and give the little guys a place to hide and develop. Also, some birds feed on seeds and the critters in the leaves. Click here to read more.
Many plants are sturdy enough to stand up through the winter – grasses, perennials and even some annuals will stay up, providing places for frost and snow to gather, offering winter wonderland spectacles. Hydrangea flower heads also look great with some snow on them. If you cut them all down now, you will miss out on those unique visual opportunities that you can’t get in the summer. This fall, try leaving at least some of your ornamental grasses or other plants up to see if you like what they give you this winter. You can cut them down in the spring.
As some little insects make their winter homes in the leaf litter, some ride out the cold in the stems of plants. If you don’t want to leave an entire plant up for the winter, at least leave the bottom 18” standing to provide habitat for the unseen creatures. In the spring, wait until mid-May to cut them all the way down, or just leave them and the new foliage will take over. All of these efforts will make your fall chores list shorter, and provide both you and your animal friends a more welcoming environment through the winter.
Photo by Chris Bosak