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Reduce it or hold it? Sustaining a brand new naturalistic backyard


It’s that point of 12 months when good backyard makers are winding down and turning their efforts in direction of “cleansing up” and “placing issues to mattress”.  

The celebration is seemingly about to be over. 

However, I screwed that up after I went to the nursery a pair days in the past for a few of these little plastic trays that go beneath your houseplants and I got here dwelling with a trunk load of vegetation.

white cone flower coneflower - Cut it or keep it? Maintaining a new naturalistic garden

In fact I did – I’m human and never proof against the lure of an finish of season 50% off sale… (I imply, I do know I espouse by no means doing this in my planting design course… however sheesh…I’m not a monster!  And I reallllly did neeeed extra of these annabelle hydrangeas….)

Fall is hanging on and so am I. I’m going to journey out this rising season till mom nature takes my keys and calls me a cab. New vegetation are stepping into, I’m sowing seeds, and nonetheless spreading mulch and prepping beds to make spring somewhat simpler.   

Usually by this time of 12 months, I’ve had fairly sufficient and I have a tendency in direction of ritual sacrifice and rationalization of half hardy vegetation that I promised myself I’d dig up and produce inside or retailer for the winter.  I justify this by saying that I’m “experimenting” to see if perhaps they’re truly hardier than they are saying (they by no means are).  Backside line, I get drained, and I let issues go and fear about it subsequent 12 months. 

However this 12 months is completely different. We don’t want to enter all of the the explanation why – however I believe it largely has to do with concern of the unknown – I’m having time proper now, so I’m savoring it whereas I can.  Gardening, fixing issues up, distracting myself with lovely issues and issues that want my care are what’s retaining me sane and retaining me within the second. 

I learn just lately in one in all my many Piet Oudolf books that he defines a spectral vary of backyard upkeep requirements. 

On one finish of the spectrum you’ve ‘intensive’ gardening – that’s, you backyard and preserve vegetation in a approach that almost all of us are used to.  We deal with every plant uniquely and individually and we look after its explicit wants. We additionally take a heavy hand in managing the planting areas (i.e. weeding, controlling seedlings, deadheading, retaining issues the place we expect they need to go, and many others.).  

On the opposite finish you’ve what he refers to as ‘in depth’ upkeep (which is a phrase selection I’m struggling to agree with… however, okay). ‘Intensive’ upkeep is seemingly the alternative of intensive, and it implies that you just deal with all of the vegetation in a planting scheme the identical. Which additionally implies that you just quit loads of the management that we usually assume. In an intensive system, issues go to seed, and also you allow them to, vegetation transfer and migrate as nature would have it, and upkeep would possibly solely include mowing it down abruptly on the finish of the season.   

I certainly do like the thought of ‘in depth’ upkeep – really easy! 

However, in fact, I additionally need the “good” drifts to look completely wild.  

So the place does that depart me?  

The naturalistic model means you need to be snug with a degree of backyard upkeep that’s someplace in the midst of this spectrum between intensive and in depth and that’s the place I’m looking for footing with my new naturalistic entrance backyard. 

purple Asters in a naturalistic garden for autumn interest
Asters lined in extreme pine needles.

I’d love for it to be simply as I imagined with billows of wildish blooms which can be completely composed by solely working it over with a mower every year. However actuality strikes. So right here is my precise plan for taking good care of my naturalistic model beds (which remains to be a piece in progress). 

Since most of the vegetation had been chosen for his or her winter curiosity and fascinating seed heads, it is unnecessary to chop something down that’s coming into the prime of its winter magnificence.  So my first rule is chop in phases.  

Cut it or keep it - Maintaining a new naturalistic garden
Utilizing the Stihl FSA57 string trimmer to strategically reduce perennials within the fall naturalistic backyard.

For this, my new battery powered Stihl string trimmer  (the FSA 57 by Stihl) is coming in useful.  I’ve additionally been experimenting with my method to see if I can constantly string trim in a prime down movement (quite than a aspect to aspect sweep).  The reason being that I’m desirous about chopping something that I’m chopping into small items.  If I begin on the backside, I get lengthy items that I can’t simply reduce into one thing that’s extra mulch-like.  If I begin on the prime, it is a little more work, however I get the small items that I would like – and I get extra of a self mulching consequence.  This can be a work in progress too. 

So, the rule is, nothing goes down except and till it’s actually ugly.  If it lasts via the winter, (which I doubt something will…) I’ll take it down in March – earlier than the bulbs begin to poke via. 

Earlier than fall cleanup of the naturalistic backyard in 12 months #1. Extreme pine needles must be cleared in order that they don’t injury small vegetation. I can’t wait till all of the these infants begin to develop collectively into grand beautiful drifts!

My second rule is to permit myself to a minimum of attempt to management the self seeding stuff – somewhat. However the factor is, I largely need these issues to seed and unfold (a minimum of for now, when I’m anxiously awaiting the fullness of extra mature vegetation). With these vegetation, I’m chopping them low to permit me to shortly collect up the seed heads and carry them round to unfold them to all of the locations I would like them.  

And lastly – for the reason that grasses are one of many foremost parts of this design, I’m engaged on a grass particular set of pointers.  

Cut it or keep it - Maintaining a new naturalistic garden
After Fall Clear up: Flopping perennials have been eliminated and pine needles blown off. As perennials are spent they are going to be reduce and cleared or mulched into the mattress.

Some grasses are getting reduce instantly and a few are staying (for now). The Deschampsia cespitosa was a favourite of the bunny and at this level, they’re simply ragged. A fast swipe with the Stihl will make them lovely clumps once more. 

The remainder of the grasses I’ll wait on. They’re nonetheless blooming out and ought to be fairly a minimum of till the primary snow or the subsequent big wind gust. After that, I’ll give them a chop.  I’ll most likely do that from the underside after which clear away a lot of the particles to the compost heap.  There will likely be a lot of it, that I don’t assume I’ve the endurance to cut it from the highest into all these tiny bits (with out a shredder). 

The perennials with good seed heads will likely be left – once more – for now. Cone flowers, black eyed susan, echinops and daisies all fall into this class. 

The concept of utilizing energy instruments rather than nice gardening customary instruments like hand pruners is considerably liberating. Not as liberating as a once-and-done mow job – however I’d nonetheless name it cathartic and far quicker. 

I waited so long as I might stand it as a result of the bees the place nonetheless having fun with the final bits of flower – however the big agastache has been cleared permitting for different fall vegetation to shine. (BTW, the bees saved proper on visiting these flowers even days after I reduce them again)

The large agastache that has flopped was a pleasure to be rid of.  It was beginning to really feel like a buddy that had one too many on the celebration and was relying somewhat an excessive amount of on its associates to maintain it upright. It has been put to mattress. The remainder of us can chill out now.  <see earlier than and after pics>

I’m additionally utilizing the Stihl BGA 57 battery-powered blower to dislodge this season’s mountain of pine needles that fell final week (in the identical storm that took a tree throughout the driveway and left us powerless for 3.69 days – sure, I depend the minutes and seconds when the facility is out).  Much less pine needles will assist a few of the vegetation that shine proper now actually showcase (sedum, asters, the late blooming irises). I typically depart a few of the deciduous tree leaves on the grass however the pine needles are plant killing celebration crashers – and I at all times really feel like I would like to point out as a lot of them as I can to the door. 

Pine needles do make an important mulch, however in addition they contribute to soil acidity and they’re so thick this 12 months (most likely because of the drought), that I’m certain they may choke out my favourite vegetation if I don’t clear them up.  

And about a few of these late season plant purchases – they are literally experiments ( I swear!)  – and I’m not attempting to justifying a bunch of impulse buys from the backyard heart  *(okay, perhaps I’m, somewhat).  

However I’ve some tweaks to make to this complete naturalistic scheme that I designed – issues that I’m not 100% pleased with.  (therefore the acquisition of onesie-twosies of random grasses and perennials that I’d use to sub out and repair a few of my design points – however I’ve obtained to check them out first…) – I’m considering I’ll have to write down a complete put up about that –  “The issues I did improper, or didn’t like and wouldn’t do once more in a naturalistic planting scheme”.  Would that be fascinating?  I’ve discovered a couple of issues…  Let me know…. 

xo, 

Rochelle

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