As the warm weather here stretches out in to October many people are more willing to play “clean up” in their landscape (compared to when the weather is cold or rainy and we just hide from it)  and yet some of this beautiful weather can make it hard to know what to do with the plants.

Here are some general tid bits for fall “winterizing” for your Minnesota landscape (yes those in other Midwest areas can play along too!)

  • weed your landscape beds to prevent more weeds next year (Trio defines weeds as any plant out of place, no matter how much you paid for it)
  • thoroughly water all of your plant material you want to see again next year -hopefully this is all of your landscape!
  • cut back perennials that are done blooming and do not offer winter interest, those you will cut back in spring- ie Ornamental Grasses, upright Sedum can stay till spring.  do take note some perennials like Heuchera and Geranium do better with out trimming all together though.
  • mulch your landscape if you haven’t done so yet, our favorite western red cedar mulch needs to be top dressed every 3-5 years to maintain proper depth to insulate and provide weed prevention
  • Wait to trim leafy shrubs/trees until after they have gone fully dormant…usually late November- March.  this will help them focus their energy in the spring to fill out better vs putting on some growth now that may not harden off in time for winter, as well as ease other insect and disease concerns.
  • DO NOT trim evergreens in the fall- wait until May/June for ideal results. Water to prevent browning.  For areas that get direct sun on delicate varieties you can spray waxy product like Wilt Pruf to help retain moisture in the needles


What is a perennial you ask?   How do I trim it?  Perennials are a family of soft tissue plants that die back to ground level and return the following growing season;examples are Daylilies, Hostas, Peonies.

To trim perennials cut the stems just above the base (or mulch) by a few inches.  Cutting to low may disturb the root system, and cutting to high may leave dead stems visible in next years new growth, so please make a judgement on to what will work for the species you are cutting as well as your own tolorance for dead stems.

If you have limited opportunity to trim things up focus most on plants that have had fungus or other disease issues and dispose of their foliage (don’t compost back into your yard) or perennials with lots of foliage such as Hostas as these you will be glad you took the time in the fall before the disease can repeat or the foliage is messier to clean up in spring.