Time to cut back.

10th October 2016

It is certainly getting a bit colder now at night and in the early morning, although it hasn’t been too bad during the day.

This is the time of year to start winding the garden down in preparation for the winter. Over the last week I’ve been cutting back herbaceous perennials. I prefer to leave about 5cm/2inches or so of stubble to give beneficial insects somewhere to over-winter.

It is also a good time to cut back roses, especially bush roses. I reduce mine by about half in order to lessen the risk of them rocking in windy conditions loosening their roots. While doing this I also give them the once-over for any dead or diseased branches, which should be removed with clean secateurs.

 

cutback

Climbing Rose – “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” from David Austin

I like to cut back climbing roses at this time too. I look to remove dead, diseased and damaged branches first then cut back spindly shoots to a strong bud or remove the entire branch depending on how weak it is. Look out for really old branches and remove them from the base. I then leave the rest of the pruning for the winter as all I’m doing here is removing undesirable material and trying minimise wind damage that might occur over the winter.

 

How do you tell if your rose is a climber and not a rambler? The easiest way to tell is to note when they flower. Ramblers will flower once in June or July whereas climbers tend to flower repeatedly throughout the summer and often into the autumn.

If you have a Buddleia then I’d recommend cutting that back to at least half its height for the same reason as the roses.

I’ll be giving my hedges a final cut of the season in the coming week or so. Unless you have some rather intricate topiary I recommend cutting your hedge so that it tapers slightly at the top. This has two benefits: the first is that a wide base and narrower top will reduce the risk of the hedge opening up in the event of being covered in snow during the winter. The second benefit is that it will enable the sides of the hedge to be properly angled to receive an equal amount of sunlight.

If you have any gaps in your borders then this is a good time to order containerised shrubs. Plants in containers can be planted at any time of year. However, I’d avoid planting anything in ground which is frozen. It is too late to order bare-root plants but a good time to plant them bearing in mind the same caveat about not planting in frozen ground.

If you are feeling particularly energetic then I’d consider lifting and dividing perennials. The newer parts of the plant will be found along the outer edge so you want to keep this and maybe dispense with the older part in the middle.

I’m still cutting my lawn but have raised the cut. Cutting it too short at this time of year increases the risk of the lawn submitting to Fusarium fungus. This is a fungus that invades soft growth at this time of year and can kill grass creating patches of brown in the lawn.

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