December 8, 2019

Cut Things Back in Your Garden- Don’t be Afraid

Cut Things Back in Your Garden- Don’t be Afraid-Bob Sussman

Your fall native garden might be looking pretty ratty this time of year. Our natives tend to go dormant with the warm summers and no rain. If you don’t take action things will look really toasted out and you’ll be getting a letter from your HOA or worse the Fire Department. What should you do?

You can do a couple of things in summer/fall. Cut stuff back and rake out the dead leaves and branches. If you want you can use the leaves and branches in a composting program but for now clean things up. A neat garden is much better to look at then wild and dead looking one.

Almost as soon as things are cut back the new growth begins especially with some irrigation or a rain storm.  How far should you cut things back?  Sort of depends on the “things” or the plants. Things like Ceanothus you really just trim back in late fall or early winter but most other things need a really good hair cut. You can cut your native salvia in half no problem and other perennials pretty much the same. Consider too if it looks ratty cut it back. If it looks fine then leave it. We have some Eriogonum arborescens – Santa Cruz Island buckwheat that looks just fine- no cut back. The pacific coast irises are short and evergreen so leave them the Heuchera alone.

Here’s one of our Salvia ‘Bon Bon’ that we cut in half.

The other consideration is to plant some natives that flower in summer/fall like our California fuchsia. After you’ve cut and neatened the flower California fuchsia and really hold the spotlight.

Here’s both California fuchsia and red buckwheat.  Here’s a shot from the Santa Barbara Garden taken in fall a few years ago.

So clean and cut back. Make sure your garden have summer/fall (winter too) flowering plants. Plant lots of new stuff in fall/winter and spring is just around the corner.


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