Something that gardeners sometimes disagree about is whether to clean up their beds in the fall or wait until spring, and I was interested to learn that horticulturist Carol Allen is in the clean-up-in-fall school.  In fact, her garden is free of dead leaves and all mulched over by the end of December so that in early spring her garden is ready for prime time!

Well I’m with Carol on this one, and here’s one reason why:  I’d rather not look at dead, brown leaves all winter!  Especially close-up to the house, I’d rather see a scene like the one below, post-leaf-removal.

Cleaning up also inspired me to add some ornamental kale to this high-visibility spot.  I love how this purple variety looks with the chartreuse Creeping Jenny groundcover.  I used five of the same kale here because in such a small space, any more would look busy to my eyes.  I keep reminding myself that in my new small garden I need to keep it simple.

Besides aesthetics, another reason to remove leaves is to keep wet leaves from killing certain plants – the ones that like to stay dry.  That includes, in the photo below, Lamb’s Ears and all my groundcover Sedums.  So while I’m waiting for all the leaves to drop to do the big clean-up in this spot, I at least unsmothered these dryness-loving perennials.

In the lower part of this photo are plenty of leaves, but they’re on top of perennials that can handle it, like black-eyed Susans.

Want more reasons for doing fall clean-up?  It removes diseased plant parts that may winter over, and spots for garden pests like mice and voles to winter over, too.

Posted by Susan Harris.

Filed under: AnnualsGardening How-To