What to do now - Jobs in the Garden by Season

Four reasons to avoid a fall cleanup

Signe Langford
Photography by
Signe Langford

Running out of time to tidy your yard? Left to its own devices, your garden will know what to do

Your garden can create winter photo opps
There may be nothing growing in the garden, but it’s still full of life, and there are ways to enjoy your winter garden. On a cold, gray day, there's nothing more rewarding than watching a delicate songbird perched on a prickly echinacea head, teetering in the wind, picking out the fatty seeds. “Winter plants, all brown and twisted and locked in time have a beauty of their own,” says Marc Green, a semi-pro photographer. And after a perfect snowfall, spent flower stalks and tall grasses add graphic interest to an otherwise barren landscape.

Your garden can re-seed itself naturally
Hardy plants, especially indigenous ones, are terrific self-seeders, and in the natural garden, plants are encouraged to self-sow. Leaving the cleanup of unwanted plant material allows seeds to go through the cold phase they require. Sure, there is the risk of prolific sowers sprouting up in unwanted areas and in greater numbers than desired, but that’s easily remedied with a little weeding and hoeing in the spring.
By now you might be asking, “Won’t leaving everything on the ground encourage weeds?” Sure, to some extent, but weeds are a fact of life, and even pavement can’t stop a truly determined plant. Weed sprouts can be dealt with in the spring. Long before the invention of the rake, seasons came and went, plants grew and died, and leaves and wood fell to the ground. Think of it as the natural way to garden. Or, as Arlene calls it, “The lazy man’s way!”

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