Most homes in this area have some type of landscaped beds in their yards along with a grass lawn. Many have a parkway tree and maybe a few more trees for shade planted in the front and back of the home with shrubs and perennials in beds around the perimeter. Adding annuals to landscaped beds and containers carries color between spring tree and shrub blooms and summer flowering perennials. There are plants for summer patio entertaining and grandeur fall color. So where is the winter interest in a well-manicured lawn? We say hide the shears until spring to maintain eye-catching interest year-round!

When to Prune Perennials

Those wanting low maintenance yards add perennials and leave them up until spring. For example, rounded coneheads and allium clusters bring texture in lollipops of snow to a stark winter landscape. Ornamental perennial grasses left to glisten on a frosty day provide much-needed shelter for burrowing bees and beneficial insects. Birds and other wildlife frequent spaces that provide food and shelter, giving back winter choruses and entertaining views from inside your warm house. Save on time and money and let nature take its course. Plants decompose naturally over winter, making your backyard more of a winter wonderland and spring clean up simple and easy.

Allium flowers with snow

Dried Allium flowers with snow on top.

Grass with frost in winter

Grass with frost in the winter.

Peonies and phlox that tend to get powdery mildew on their leaves will need to be cut back in the fall. Throw the leaves in the garbage to deter the plants from becoming infected the following year.

When to Prune Trees & Shrubs

Pruning trees is best during late winter when the leaves are gone and the structure of the tree is more visible. Branches that rub against each other and cause wounds can be removed as well as any dead, broken and insect or disease-infested wood. Low hanging branches in traffic areas or near signs and power lines can be removed for safety reasons.

Crab Apple Berries

Persistent berries on crabs add interest through the winter.

Dried hydrangea flowers

Dried flowers of Quickfire Hydrangea in winter.

Generally, shrubs can be successfully pruned in early spring and then again in June or July to control size, shape and flowering characteristics. Many shrubs have already formed their buds for next year. Pruning in fall would cut off spring flowering branches.

If you see powdery mildew on leaves in autumn, wait for the leaves to fall to the ground, then rake and throw the foliage in the garbage instead of composting. Our Tree & Shrub Manager Eric Gundersen says the plant itself is not affected by the mildew as the foliage is. Pruning in spring will improve air and light circulation by thinning out dense growth and opening up the plant to reduce disease.