If you haven’t already started, it is time to get your garden ready for a long Winters nap. First take a pair of hand pruners, and start chopping back your perennials, as close to the ground as possible. Leaving stems two or three inches high, is just about right. If you want the work to go a little faster, try using a sharp pair of hedge clippers to lop down your plants. Next pull out all of your annuals. When it comes to plants like hostas and day lilies, after they are hit by a killing frost, you can pull at them, and they rip off pretty easily.
If you have rose bushes, mound fallen leaves, day lily grasses, and frost bit hosta leaves around the base of the plants. Make a ring, or collar around the rose-bush about eight to twelve inches high, and about twelve inches, or more wide. The ring of vegetation will insulate the rose from cold Winter weather, and stop Winter thawing and freezing.
If you live in a high wind area, you can hammer a couple of wooden stakes, or sturdy sticks (plastic coated metal stakes) close to the plant, and tie the canes to the stakes. This will stop the rose canes (branches) from whipping in the wind, and possibly loosening the root from the ground. You can also, lightly drape some burlap around the rose, to cut winter winds.
As you are cutting back plants, look for baby weeds, and grasses that have taken root. Eliminate them when you see them. Eradicating weeds early, makes less work, than when they are bigger, and are more aggressive.
Finally take a lawn mower to the garden. Don’t be afraid to cut over the beds. Just don’t cut down plants like Lamb’s ears, or heucheras, or any other plant in your area, that stays in place, not really shedding its leaves for the winter, or dying back.
Here at Whimsey Hill House, I have two BIG day lily beds, that I slowly work the lawn mower over, taking small “bites”, until they are completely taken down. Some people leave sedum, spent rudbeckia flowers, and Russian sage in place for winter interest. I mow and cut down everything, just to have a head start when it is time for spring cleanup. I feel leaving foliage, to many leaves, and grasses on the beds and borders gives rodents places to hide, away from the Winter cold. I have some BIG clumps of Dutch Iris, that have really sturdy blades. I take a pair of FISKARS scissors to them.
So tell me, are you BRAVE enough to take the lawn mower to your garden??? How have you put your garden to bed? And are there any other outdoor projects that you want to do before calling the gardening season DONE?