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Readers Respond: What's the Best Season to Clean-Up the Garden, Spring or Fall?

Responses: 10


Some gardeners want to move indoors and concentrate on the holidays, once fall arrives. Others like to work in the cool, bug-free air and put their gardens to bed. I try to get as much done in the fall as I can, so there's less to do in the spring, when I'm busy. Still, a lot of plants don't like being disturbed in the fall and then there are the self-seeders and the plants that feed the birds all winter...

What's your preference? Do you like to tidy up and put the garden to bed or do you prefer to wait until spring? Are there certain plants you like to leave standing? Any tricks for making the work move faster?

Fall, to Use the Leaves

I prefer the fall. I rake leaves and place them into a garbage can. I then take my weed wacker and move it up and down in the leaves "blending it" like a regular blender then add it to the yard and turn it in/over the plant beds for next season
—Guest wnd50


I prefer to have as much cleaned up in the fall, as I hate the hosta leaves when they are dead and slimmy. That pretty much goes for all of my beds.
—Guest Virginia Pleban

Fall Cleanup

We have a large property with lots of trees and after a decade, I conclude that fall is the best time to clean up. Last year I didn't and had to deal with tons of wet, partially decomposed leaves that are difficult to mulch, and make for heavy trash bags otherwise. We do mow a lot on the lawns, but now gather the leaves onto areas of the lawn near flower beds, mow them and blow them or rake them into the beds for mulch. Too much mulched leaf debris will smother the lawn. I have a Workx leaf vac too, and this works really well in corners and garden beds where it is difficult to rake. I empty the bags into the flower beds. Finally, I cut down perennials but leave tall ornamental grasses...they look great in snow and the fronds make striking table decorations in winter. One thing I don't do is prune anything in fall...too much chance to reinvigorate growth. I wait til late winter or very early spring.

Sprng, for Pest Control

Spring clean up is best as the insects that use seed pods etc for winter protection have moved out.
—Guest cat1940

Cutting back the easy way

I'm hoping to make my garden easy to clean up in the fall. I'm hoping this year to be able to use my 'trimmer' I call a weed whacker on wheels to whack everything down in one swoop and then go around and rake it all up.
—Guest wattsbloomin

Cutting it Back

My cutting back of perennials mostly hinges on my greediness for late season greenery. If it still looks good before the first snow, I’ll let it go until spring. The exception to this method would be ornamental grasses. They usually turn to crud before snowfall, but I keep them for additional winter interest. Because of this personal rule, I find that 1/2 to 2/3 of cutting back is done in fall, and the rest in spring. And hey, let’s be honest, during the winter, most of us are itching to get back in our yards, so why not have some cutting to do, so that you have an excuse to get out in the garden during February and March.
—Guest Phil


Everyday is time to clean the garden, like your house you clean everyday, and your body you wash everyday.
—Guest Raphael

Ongoing Clean-up

I am a person that likes to keep things tidy. Then, if you happen to get sick, your garden is ready for summer even if you can't work it .
—Guest Ruth Hill

Best Cleanup is Springtime

I think letting the garden go until Spring is the best choice. Most plants are left to reseed and the birds have food from plants and a place to hide and keep warm, plus it's a natural blanket in winter for all the plants roots.
—Guest Kathleen Norris


Why do people clip-off their decorative grass in the Fall? That's the season when it comes into its own, with waving plumes.I never, ever prune decorative grass.
—Guest jeanX

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