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After summer clear up

Hi, i was wondering how you all clear your gardens at the end of summer. I am tempted to leave all the plants as they are so that all the insects that are there now will have somewhere to shelter over winter, and the nutrients will go back in to the soil as they slowly rot over winter, then do the big clear up in early spring. Or is it better to cut down, pull up and compost everything in Autumn ?.


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754
    I don't really do anything much. I don't grow a lot of annuals, so not much to pull up. Perennials are left to their own devices, and much of my garden is evergreen. I remove any sludgy foliage now and again throughout winter though. 
    Once the grass/hedges have had a tidy, it's left until spring when I tidy any wet, manky foliage that's still hanging around if it's going to lie on the crown of anything important.

    It largely depends on how tidy you are, and the type of planting you have, whether you cut back things just now or not.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks Fairygirl, i will probably leave it as we can't see the garden much from the house and only use it for pegging out washing on dry days. I can cope with the untidiness and will look forward to the spring clean ! :)
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754
    That's exactly what I mean @fosterrose90 - it depends on your garden and your attitude to it.  :)
    I have a lot of evergreens because spring's a long time coming here, and it can be depressing looking out at bare soil. The one thing I would recommend, if you don't already do it, is to have plenty of bird feeders.
    They provide such great entertainment and help you ignore jobs that need doing.... ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,690
    I have always let the garden go feral over winter as I think it is a good idea to leave stems and seed heads for insects and birds, and leaves for creatures to hide or forage in. However there is a downside as it means there is a mad dash in spring to get everything tidied up before the new growth appears. It's probably best to go for a half and half approach so that there isn't so much to do in's what I'll be doing this year.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 10,417
    I always intend to do a partial clear up in the autumn, just the things that have no redeeming features like the mildewed acanthus leaves (leaving the flower/seed heads)and sprawly old crocosmia. More often than not it goes no further than intent, resulting in the abovementioned mad dash in spring, and me wishing I'd been better organised in the autumn.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • Mary370Mary370 Posts: 2,003
    I used to always do a big clear out and general tidy up of everything.......cutting back all dead/dying plants etc.  Last year I left all but the worst plants and was rewarded with lots more birds visiting to feed of all the various seed heads and the added bonus of self seeded plants.  I will do a big clean up next Spring again........
  • Thank you for all the replies, it has helped me to make my mind up.....i am definitely going to leave things still spring. I have never thought about the birds being able to eat the seed heads and insects on the plants overwinter and of course the self seeded plants I will get next year !!!.
    I have a small garden so it won't be a huge job to clear up in spring ! :D
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,754
    I'm with @Ceres - a half and half approach. I think it's also fine if you live in a more rural spot toleave everything, but if you live in a more urban area, I believe front gardens that can be seen by all and sundry should have a reasonable amount of tidyness. 
    I rarely leave seedheads because they never look like they do in all those photos - you know the kind I mean -  perfect, tawny, frosted beautiful specimens. They look as rough as hell here - battered into submission by wind and rain, long before they get a chance of frost. 
    Then they get covered in snow :D
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • If you are happy to leave perennials slymped on the soil for at least early winter it does help prevent weeds sprouting. Then the borders are quite easy to clear with just a soil rake as it's well rotted down
  • AuntyRachAuntyRach Posts: 5,253
    I leave nearly all of my garden to just die back naturally. I book a week off in early Spring and clear all the brown and old stuff - it’s fantastic to spot new green shoots etc. and I love doing it on those cold but sunny days in March. 
    My garden and I live in South Wales. 
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