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You can enjoy your fall plants until the ground freezes by prepping your yard for winter. Don’t just leave it up to fate. Here are some helpful tips on cleaning up your beds, cutting back plants, mulching and more!

PLANTSGray and brown dry wild flower in autumn

Getting your yard ready for winter is not a one-and-done task. Because plants die back at different rates, trimming them is a gradual process. The general rule of thumb is that you should start trimming back plants when the leaves turn yellow or brown.

Why? The plants’ root systems require a storage of nourishment to survive the cold months. As the roots draw energy away from the stalks and leaves, they lose their green color. Once the life force is gone, they serve no further purpose to the plant and should be cut off.

The exception to the rule: If your plants still look good, don’t cut them. Some perennials do better if you leave them alone.


Just because the temperatures are cool does not mean that you should stop watering your plants as dry soil may actually kill the plants’ roots. Keep watering your yard throughout the fall – until the ground is frozen – to ensure that your landscape has a good store of water.

TIP: water early in the day so the plants have time to absorb the moisture.


Once the soil is frozen, apply a thick layer of mulch containing straw and/or hay for better insulation. Contrary to belief, the purpose of the mulch is not to keep the roots warm, but rather to keep the ground frozen evenly.

TIP: You can create your own mulch by composting your fallen leaves and adding hay or straw to the mix.

Raking leaf pileLAWN

If your grass is still growing, keep cutting it. Leaving your grass too long over winter can lead to brown patches in the spring. And make sure to rake up all your leaves because piles left behind will smother and kill your turf.

Ornamental grasses, on the other hand, can be left alone throughout winter and trimmed back in the spring.


Clean the leaves out of your beds, especially if there are any slimy ones, to avoid moisture build-up that can lead to root rot. Also, pull any remaining weeds. You can also remove and compost your spent annuals as long as they aren’t diseased.

For information on lawn care services for your Columbus, Ohio, commercial or residential property, contact Five Seasons Landscape Management.