Lose the Rake
OK I’ll be honest. I have yet to do my fall chores. The recent frost has turned the plants in my containers into terrified skeletons, a blanket of leaves covers my lawn and the tropicals in the garden have gone to mush. Not to mention the chipmunk tunnels that are crisscrossing both the lawn and garden. Spending all day in my clients’ gardens leaves me with very little energy for my own. So I have come up with an abbreviated list of “must-dos”. This streamlined approach leaves me with more time to watch NCIS and enjoy a glass of wine (which is what I wanted to do in the first place).
To start, I remove all dead annuals from the pots and gardens. Diseased plants are also taken out but not put in the compost pile; I don’t want any disease spreading. I do not cut back most perennials for two reasons. First, those with ornamental seed heads or structure can provide winter interest. Second, some perennials, like delphiniums, have hollow stems; cutting them back allows water in and can promote rot. An exception is bearded iris. If iris borer is a problem I cut back the iris foliage AFTER the first frost.
Instead of raking I mow my leaves. Using the lawn mower with the bag attachment allows the leaves to be shredded and collected. All that’s left is to mulch the garden with them. Over the winter they will break down and enrich the soil. Finally I make sure both the garden and my home are not appealing to critters. I spray Deer Defeat (visit their website) on my evergreens and sprinkle some fox urine around the house to deter mice and squirrels. I do not wrap my plants to protect them from the elements; the burlap mummies I see in some yards do not look attractive to me. The best defense for any susceptible evergreen is to make sure it is well watered going into the winter.
Less time spent on fall chores means more time spent on fun things. NCIS anyone?