What Not to Cut Back in Fall

by Vanessa Tsumura December 19, 2018 1 min read

Every fall my husband and I get ready for endless rounds of leaf-raking. Our backyard is surrounded by gorgeous ash, oak and maple trees and come mid-October our yard is covered in a thick blanket of leaves. 

Fall garden clean up can seem overwhelming, but it helps to know that not everything needs to be cleared out. I’ve learned over the years that clearing out your garden completely is not only unnecessary, but can discourage birds from visiting your garden in winter.

First, let’s talk about the plants that you really should cut back after a couple of frosts. Hostas, beebalm, peonies, daylilies and iris will do better if cut back to about a couple of inches high. Make sure your tools are sharpened before cutting. Hostas may look wimpy after a frost, but boy are they tough to cut back with dull shears.

In my neck of the woods, finches, sparrows and cardinals stand out against a snowy backdrop in winter. My garden mums and sedum make convenient perches for these birds, so I don’t cut them back until spring.

Echinacea and rudbeckia are also left untouched until spring and provide seed for my feathered friends to eat. 

Do you leave some perennials uncut in your winter garden? I’d love to hear in the comments section!


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