Have you ever noticed around Halloween that some properties look just plain scary? Over night big, white styrofoam barrels appear, shrubs are wrapped in tattered burlap and straw is strewn about. Sometimes you even see elaborately constructed “gallows” built around plants with lots of small pieces of wood, baling wire, metal stakes and all manner of materials.
Well, this isn’t holiday decorating! It is instead what gardeners and hobbyists have bought into when they read one book or another on gardening that had a section on putting plants “to bed” for their winter “sleep”.
Installing plants that are not hardy in our climate zone, installing plants in the wrong location or placing plants where physical damage can occur are some of the reasons gardeners and gardening authors spend so much time on the subject of preparing plants for the winter. Sometimes these measures actually cause more damage, like when straw or other coverings provides a great location for mice to hang out in a cozy spot and eat the “protected” plants.
The elaborate ritual of covering, wrapping and mulching plants in late fall is not necessary when property owners adopt sustainable landscape methods. Starting out with sustainable property design means that plants and other features will be chosen based on the climate and site conditions. Good design and good plant choices significantly reduce all maintenance needs including at the end of the growing season.
It is time to put to bed the notion of “putting plants to bed”.