The success of your garden through the winter, and the joy of its emergence in the spring, can be enhanced by a few simple but critical chores undertaken in the fall. Here are three autumn tips from Joann Vieira, Tower Hill’s director of horticulture, for making sure your landscape is ready to go.
Fall Cleaning! The importance of a thorough fall cleanup is often underestimated, yet vitally important to the control of pests and diseases. All plants material that has shown any signs of insect or disease problems should be removed from the garden and disposed of away from both the garden and working compost heaps. Many insects and diseases overwinter in and around the host plant so removing them from the area is important in breaking the life cycle. Adding diseased material to a working compost heap could reintroduce the problem when the finished compost is returned to the garden, so be sure to dispose of it elsewhere. Cutting back perennials and cleaning up fallen leaves also allows plants to emerge unimpeded in the spring, and frankly makes for a better looking garden through the winter.
There are always exceptions – if you have sturdy perennials that remain recent and interesting during the winter, and provide seeds or nesting materials for birds, you might want to leave them standing to enhance the beauty of your garden in the winter and to support desirable wildlife as well. Coneflowers, ornamental grasses, Siberian iris, Autumn Joy Sedum and Astilbes are classic examples of plants that provide winter beauty. If you have any disease issues with these plants, or high populations of voles and mice it is best to cut these plants to the ground rather that provide cover and overwintering sites for problems.