Most people are intent on having their landscape look great always, and very often in particular the fall landscape. The good news is that there are some simple steps to be taken that will keep your yard looking great during the cooler months, while also getting it ready to greet the spring when it arrives. For starters, we recommend cutting all your Perennials to the ground when they go dormant and turn brown. We do this with all Astilbe, Salvia, Coralbells, Hostas, etc., but will allow ornamental grasses (depending on the variety involved) to sometimes remain standing. For instance, we notice that over the winter Feather Reed Grass looks rather nice, and is sturdy enough to deal with the temperatures that get cold when different other ornamental grasses would topple. They remind us so much of winter wheat.
Much of the dead looking growth will be removed from the beds by your cutting back the perennials. Their appearance is just greatly improved by doing so. Technically, at any time between their turning brown in the Fall and their Spring regrowth, perennials may be cut. The truth is though that the appearance of your landscape beds is greatly improved by doing it sooner rather than later.
In the Fall, we strongly urge you to get those shrubs trimmed. It is the best time to reduce their size without inflicting any damage to them. Plants such as Potentilla and Spirea that flower on new growth can be trimmed in the Fall. Plants such as certain varieties of Hydrangea and Lilacs ought to be dealt with as soon as they flower. Unless you do not mind losing spring flowers, exercise caution trimming some varieties of Hydrangeas and Lilacs this time of the year. If during the growing season your Knockout Roses have flourished and done well, trimming them back to two feet (24 inches) is our suggestion. Depending on the winter die back, in March or April we cut them back even somewhat further to a height of about 18 inches.
New growth that will possibly be killed by cold temperatures can occur if you fertilize in conjunction with your Fall cleanup activities. If you live in those areas where early Winter warm ups are fairly commonplace, this is even more important to be aware of.
When you are not hindered by vines, leaves and other tree obstructions, you can see what you are doing and shaping and trimming is much easier to handle. And when you don’t have to deal with all the leaves, cleanup goes so much faster.
When most of the leaves are down from the trees is the best time for the cleaning of flower and shrubbery beds. Waiting is certainly not always the easiest thing to do, but doing so will mean not having to do it again. Prior to raking the beds, we like to clean all sprouting. Doing so gets us fully prepared for Spring rains when they arrive. Also, when cleaning the beds, those leaves that have fallen in are simple to remove.
Finally, over the winter months the beds appearance is greatly improved by your fluffing the mulch. It is also greatly advisable to rake around the base of any plants a portion of loose mulch, if they are those susceptible to Winter kill. The roots are helped to be insulated by the excess mulch.
Taking these steps suggested not only gives you a great start in the Spring, but keeps those fall landscape beds Looking great all Winter also!