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!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

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

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