Plants To Leave Alone This Fall
|If you're used to deadheading all of your flowers, raking up all of your leaves, and generally "cleaning up" your yard before winter, the ideas below might seem strange to you. But more and more gardeners and horticulturists have grown to understand that leaving certain kinds of plants and flowers alone before the winter can provide a wealth of benefits, including:|
Ornamental grasses can provide some interest to your yard during the colder months, especially when covered with a layer of freshly fallen snow. The plumes of switch grass (Panicum), zebra grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'), and feather reed grass (Calamagrostis) make quite a show! Leave them standing until spring then cut them back before the new shoots appear. These grasses can also act as a wind barrier, protecting some of the more fragile plants around them. Keep in mind, however, that some grasses won't work with fire mitigation practices.
Leaving the seed heads on perennials such as (Rudbeckia), oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) can attract birds to your yard. Goldfinches, for example, love coneflower seeds and will perch on top of the plant while they delicately pluck out one seed at a time.
Other perennials have sculptural forms that contrast nicely with fresh snow later in winter. For example, the seeds of sedum 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum spectabile 'Autumn Joy') and Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) have large, round lacy globes that hang on all winter long. Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) have interesting elongated black seedpods that really stand out against the snow.
Finally, there are the marginally hardy perennials that are more likely to survive the winter cold if you leave their stems to collect leaves and snow for insulation and moisture. Common plants not to prune back this fall include garden mums (Chrysanthemum spp.), anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), red-hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria), and Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum).
Whether you implement some of these fall ideas or just one, you may be surprised at the new and lovely sights that greet you this winter.
~Lam Tree Service