Fall has arrived – and that means it’s time to start cleaning up your flowerbeds before winter settles in.
How you clean up the annuals, perennials and bushes in your flowerbeds this fall can have a massive impact on the health and vitality of your beds next year. And even more, it can play a huge role in preventing next year’s weeds and weeding chores!
So much time and effort is spent on flowerbeds in the spring. But believe it or not, fall is just as important, if not more so for maintaining flowerbeds with healthy plants, few pests, and even fewer weeds.
In fact with just a little work now, you really can set the stage for low-maintenance flowerbeds next year. With that in mind, here are the keys to cleaning up your flowerbeds right this fall!
How To Clean Up Your Flowerbeds This Fall – The Simple Secrets To Creating Beautiful, Low Maintenance Flower Beds
Fall is a critical time to clear weeds from your flowerbeds. Don’t think weeds that die off in the winter aren’t coming back. Not only will they come back, they will come back stronger if you let them live now!
Many gardeners pack it in each fall, vowing to make next year the year they tackle weeds. In reality, fall is the ideal time to get rid of the weeds in your beds once and for all.
As summer fades to autumn, most weeds begin to form seed heads. And if allowed to remain, those seeds eventually fall to the soil. When this happens, it is like planting thousands of potential weeds to deal with next spring and summer.
Weeds left in the ground also use up valuable resources such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. The same resources needed by annuals and perennials for strong growth and bigger blooms. So the faster you get them out, the healthier your soil stays.
Step 1 : Remove Your Fading Annuals – How To Clean Up Your Flowerbeds This Fall
Dying and decaying plant foliage can cause big issues next year if allowed to overwinter in your flowerbeds. Especially when it comes to annual flowers!
Annuals such as petunias, marigolds and impatiens are full of seed heads on their blooms. If allowed to overwinter, those seed heads sprout to become next years volunteer weeds. Even worse, their decaying foliage becomes the perfect host for insects and disease to multiply and lie in wait.
As your annual plants begin to fade, remove them quickly from flowerbeds. Remove any seed heads from the plant, and then add the remaining foliage to your compost pile.
In addition, be sure to remove any potted or container annuals placed in or near flowerbeds as well. The seed pods can easily blow into nearby flowerbeds, causing the same seed-sprouting weed issues next year.
Step 2 : Fall Perennial Care – How To Clean Up Your Flowerbeds This Fall
Now that your have cleared your beds of weeds and annuals, it is time to tackle the perennial plants!
Most perennials need to have their foliage and stems cut back as they die off in late fall. But before this takes place, it’s important to dig out and divide any overgrown plants.
Overgrown perennials are not only unsightly, but are more susceptible to disease and insect infestations. And to boot, they usually produce fewer blooms when their roots become tangled and overcrowded.
Autumn is the perfect time to assess beds for perennial growth and maturity. Plants have had an entire season to grow, and it’s easy to see which need split. At the same time, you can see what areas of your beds can use a few more transplants to help fill in.
For more help on this – check out this week’s new podcast on this very subject : Dividing Perennials In The Fall
Step 3: Fill Your Beds With Plants This Fall – And Have Less Weeds Next Year! How To Clean Up Your Flowerbeds This Fall
Here is the best advice of all for having fewer weeds than ever in your flowerbeds next year – fill them full of plants this fall!
By dividing overgrown perennials and creating additional (and free!) plants to place in open spaces, you can pack your bed spaces full of flowers. And flowerbeds that are filled with foliage allow little space for weeds to ever develop.
Even better, the more plants you have, the less mulch you will need to purchase. And although mulch is also an important part of keeping weeds out and beds healthy, having to purchase less every year is never a bad thing. In fact, it is a win-win like no other! (See : How To Divide Perennials In The Fall – The 7 Secrets To Success)
Step 4: Mulching Flowerbeds In The Fall – How To Clean Up Your Flowerbeds This Fall
So many gardeners place a huge emphasis on spring mulching. But in many ways, fall mulching is even more important. Not so much for looks, but for stopping next year’s weeds, and providing protection for plants through winter.
Flowerbeds left bare, or mostly-bare through the winter are easy access for blowing and drifting weed seeds to find a home. And once they do, they will plant themselves and lie in wait til spring. Bare soil also leaves perennial roots more vulnerable to freezing out in extremely cold weather.
If that wasn’t enough, leaving the soil bare also allows minerals and nutrients in the top layer to leach away from winter’s wind, rain and snow.
When & How To Mulch Your Flowerbeds In The Fall
If you want to eliminate weeds next year, it all begins this fall with a thick coat of protective mulch. But how you apply that mulch is a big key to stopping next year’s weeds. (See : How To Mulch Fall Flowerbeds To Stop Next Year’s Weeds)
One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make in the fall is to turn or flip the mulch already in their beds. Although it may “freshen up” the mulch a bit, it also replants any weed seeds sitting on top of the soil.
The less you disturb the old mulch the better. Instead, top coat your bed with a thick, 3 to 4 inch layer of new mulch. Not only will it help protect against weeds, it will also help insulate the roots of your perennials from winter’s fury.
Here is to cleaning up your flowerbeds this fall, and to having less weeds, less hassle – and more flowers next spring and summer! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary.
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