Fall is such an incredibly busy time of year for us gardeners. Between the harvesting, canning, pickling, freezing, chopping, eating, cooking, and fighting the first few frosts (after a summer of fighting heat, drought, bugs and diseases – wait, why do we love gardening so much again?). Whew, I’m exhausted just writing all that! Fall garden cleanup is one of those big stresses. But guess what, it really doesn’t have to be stressful!
When I first started gardening, I thought I had to get everything done before winter came. And I mean everything. I had to clean up every little bit of dead plant material, fallen leaves and other debris in my garden in the fall (I’m a bit of a clean freak).
Well guess what? It turns out the gardens don’t have to be completely cleaned up in the fall after all. In fact, it’s actually good to leave many things in the garden until spring.
Related Post: Tips on Winterizing Your Gardens
Tips To Simplify Fall Garden Cleanup
Life is busy, and these days there are soooo many things demanding our attention. Fall garden cleanup should be the least of our worries! Over the years, I’ve come up with several shortcuts for fall garden cleanup, and I now I get to share my tips with you.
- Cut down spring blooming perennials and any plants you don’t want self-sowing themselves all over the garden (I’m looking at you Black-eyed Susans!), and leave the rest until spring. That way, you won’t be rushed to get all your spring cleanup done either. By cutting down the spring blooming perennials during your fall garden cleanup, you’ll buy yourself a month or so before you have to worry about cleaning up the gardens in the spring.
- Get yourself a leaf blower. Trust me on this. You’ll discover that it’s worth every penny. I used to be a rake girl, and actually kinda enjoyed raking the yard (until my arms felt like they would fall off). But now that I have one, I can’t believe how much easier a leaf blower makes my fall garden cleanup chores. All I have to do now is blow the leaves right into my veggie garden. Easy peasy!
- Speaking of cleaning up leaves… you can use your lawn mower like a vacuum cleaner to clean up the leaves on your lawn. Put the bag attachment on your mower, blow or rake all the leaves into a loose pile and simply mow them up. Then you can dump the mower bag into a lawn compost bag, the compost bin or directly into your garden to use as mulch!
- A hedge trimmer’s not just for trimming hedges! This one was actually my husband’s idea. A few years ago, I was super far behind on my fall garden cleanup chores and asked him to help me. When he saw me down on my hands and knees using hand held garden clippers to cut down my perennials one by one, he was like “why the hell are you making it so hard on yourself?” (my words, not his – haha). He disappeared into the garage and came back out with the electric hedge trimmer. I was confused (and slightly alarmed) for a minute, then once I saw how quickly and efficiently he was chopping down perennial after perennial, I was thrilled! All I had to do was follow behind him and pick up the debris. (he might regret that, cause guess who’s my fall garden cleanup helper for the rest of eternity!!) Awesome! Double easy peasy! Note: you could use hand held hedge trimmer shears too, if you don’t have an electric hedge trimmer.
- Focus on the critical tasks and let the rest go. Gardening is not one of those hobbies where you can control every little detail, and have it all turn out perfectly. (I think this is a lesson you learn after about the first 5 minutes of gardening.) So focus on the most important fall garden tasks, and let the rest go. I wish someone would have given this advice when I first started gardening (although, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway!).
More Fall Gardening Posts
- 5 Essential Fall Garden Tasks
- Lasagna Gardening
- Tips on Winterizing Your Gardens
- Prepare a Vegetable Garden for Winter
- Sharpen Pruning Shears For The Perfect Cut Every Time
What tips would you add to help take the stress out of fall garden cleanup?