After you have completed the fall lawn aeration and winterized the vegetable garden, you will want to turn your attention to the annual and perennial beds that border your house and yard. These gardens can continue to beautify your yard and they can also provide food for the birds during winter. Today we have some tips about how to prepare these garden spaces.
Leave Some Perennials Alone
- Winter birds find certain types of perennial seed pods a source of food (see the list we have composed).
- Some perennials also provide a hiding place for small animals to shelter from the weather and from predators.
- Less hardy perennials will benefit from leaving stems and foliage to insulate the plant crowns. The foliage and stems also act as a placeholder for early spring gardening–you will know where these plants are and therefore are less apt to disturb them.
- Some perennials have colorful foliage that holds up during the winter months. If you don’t already have these sorts of plants in the ground, think about them for next year’s gardens. Helleborus, an evergreen perennial, is one such plant. This small flowering perennial comes in several varieties, many hardy in northern climates. You might also like Japanese grass, Acorus gramineus, which sports variegated 30 cm x 6 mm leaves. These colorful leaves resist fading during the winter months, even here in Canada.
Cut Back Others
- Some of us like the look of a clean garden, free of stems and foliage. If this is the case with you, cut down perennials after a heavy frost has made the plants go dormant. Leave only about 7 cms of foliage above the crown. Cutting too closely may cause injury because, at least on some varieties, buds are at the surface and not below the soil line.
- If your perennials suffered from disease over the summer, cut them back regardless of their pretty foliage or seeds. Rake up the leaves and other surface debris that have dropped. Then put the foliage and debris into the trash to be destroyed.
- Pull, rake, and compost annual flowers. Any annuals that were diseased add to the trash just as you did the perennial foliage. Do not compost it. You might be surprised at how effective this routine proves for stopping or decreasing disease on next year’s plants.
Tending flower beds in the fall can add beauty to the winter landscape and help wildlife make it through the winter. If the chore seems a bit much for you, call you local yard maintenance company. They will clean up and tend the gardens so that you have the pleasantest view possible throughout the winter months.