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How do you put your perennials to bed for winter?

10 years ago

Am I just too compulsive? Is my neat freak tendency showing? I am really curious how you trim back perennials for winter (if you do). I do realize not everyone trims back for winter, but for me it is a necessity. Spring is always far too hectic for me to take care of the beds, so I need to get it done now.

The reason I ask is that for the first time ever I hired a landscape maintenance guy to do my fall cleanup chores. He did it while I was at work (and wasn't expecting him but that's a different story) so I wasn't able to watch or ask questions or critique his technique.

When I came home, I almost cried. The plants were GONE! I didn't know he was coming that day and everything was just gone. Wow, what a shock. Especially since a few were still putting on nice autumn displays (asters, Siberan iris foliage, etc.). On the other hand, I would have had to do it myself within the next week or two anyway.

But when I looked at the plants, it looks as though he just went along with a weed whacker and whacked them all down, then raked the debris out of the beds. Some plants were cut all the way to the ground, some were cut about six inches high. The worst was the irises, the foliage was really ragged where the weed whacker chopped it off.

I ended up going through all the beds and tidying up more. Trimming everything to the ground or at least making them even, cutting the iris blades so they weren't ragged, etc.

But as I did this, I kept wondering - do I need to? Maybe it was okay that he weed whacked it all. Maybe they don't need to be so carefully and painstakingly trimmed neatly. Maybe it's okay if the iris blades are ragged. It's all going to be covered by snow soon anyway. Maybe I don't need to spend an entire weekend on my knees. A weed whacker would certainly be easier.

So ... do you carefully and neatly trim your perennials or do you use the quicker and more efficient whacking technique?

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