Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

The Best Garden Tip Ever:

Don’t Clean Up your Garden in the Fall


If you feel the need to clean up a flower bed (and many gardeners insist on doing so, even though they know may know it is harmful: they just can’t help themselves!), it is certainly not something you want to do in the autumn. The more a flower bed or even a vegetable patch is littered with plant residues over the winter, the better the condition it will be in in the spring. And for many reasons, including:
• the dead leaves and stems protect permanent plants against the cold;
• garden waste left in place (dead annuals, leaves, etc.) protect your precious garden soil from erosion;
• the very best nutrient source for any plant is its own decomposing leaves;
• beneficial insects overwinter in the “waste” and, if you leave it in place, will be there to deal with pests the following spring;
• the seed capsules of the plants you did not cut back attract birds and feed wildlife;
• and the list goes on and on.

It is simply against nature to clean up a garden in the fall!

But even knowing that, I know many gardeners will hesitate. “Imagine all those soggy leaves we’ll have to pick up in the spring if we don’t do it in the autumn!” But that’s the beauty of the whole thing! When spring comes, most “waste” magically disappears. The leaves mostly decompose during the winter and the first warm days of spring completes the process. There is very little to pick up in the spring, not even a fifth the of stuff you would have bagged in the fall.

In a nutshell, the less you clean up, the more beautiful and healthy your garden will be. Mother Nature rules!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

  1. OMG! Finally, someone reaffirms what I always suspected.

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