Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Shave and Haircut

Since last weekend was nice and warm, I decided it was time to give the garden a shave and haircut.
This annual ritual of trimming back all of last year's plant growth usually begins sometime in mid-February to early March. The timing varies depending on the weather and the availability of a little extra time. I usually work on the front yard one weekend and the backyard another weekend. There is no huge rush to clear off the old growth, so I can take my time. I actually started on the front yard last month by removing all of the gayfeather stalks because I did not want any more seeds to scatter. Click here for a look at the gayfeather glowing in the afternoon sun.

My tool of choice for this job (at least, the best one that I have) is an electric hedge trimmer. It cuts through the grasses and perennials with ease. I do have to be careful though. My extension cord often ends up a little shorter because I have cut through it on more than one occasion. Fortunately, no sparks this year.

Leaves begin to build up in some of the plants and my hope is that they will blow away when the plants are closely cropped. The Gregg Dalea, Dalea greggii, is not spared from my chopping frenzy. It gets cut to the ground every year.

This photo was taken a couple of days after this Pine Muhly, Muhlenbergia dubia, received its burr haircut. Green blades are already growing out of the stubble.

The only plants spared from pruning are the evergreen plants, like the cactus and yuccas. I did not prune the Gregg Salvia, Salvia greggii, and Skeleton-leaf Goldeneye, Viguiera stenoloba, yet because they can be sensitive to late freezes. 

A view of the rain garden. The only plant that was not cut back was the False Indigo, Amorpha fruticosa.

Even the horsetail reed in the stock tank was cut back to make room for fresh, new growth. 

I still have pockets of leaves that did not blow away. They will need to be removed soon because there are bluebonnet seedlings and other plants that are ready to grow. This weekend is supposed to be nice, so I may find myself removing leaves and trimming the plants in the backyard.

10 comments:

  1. At first I was reading about your liatris and thinking "Hey, wait a minute! Why in the world am I not growing that out front?!" and then I did a little checking and remembered. Liatris is "Minimally deer resistant", which in my situation usually means the plant will not be the first but rather the second thing the deer eat as they browse our spaces.

    That's OK. I'm happy to enjoy the beautiful images of it growing at your place. You must feel some relief at getting half your annual TrimFest completed. I hope your weekend weather cooperates for phase two!

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    1. Fortunately, TexasDeb, I don't have to worry about deer. Rabbits are another story. They have been eating the leaves off my yuccas over the winter!
      I don't think my Liatris are all that special to look at until they are in bloom or when the seedheads have dried. I have considered giving them a smaller place in the garden. That probably will not happen any time soon because I allowed lots of seeds to scatter this past season.

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  2. I love how your garden looks nice even in the winter. Sorry for the question but is there a horticultural reason for the trimming? I am guessing it kind of replicates a prairie fire condition and helps growth. What would happen if you left the grasses? (new to growing prairie plants, apologies)

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    1. Debra, the main reason I trim the brown off my grasses is cosmetic. I like a clean slate in the spring and the new green growth looks much fresher without having brown mixed in. If I could burn, I would. I have heard that the muhlys can go without removing the brown growth. I tried that on a big muhly and I was not as fond of the look. I have noticed that, even in one season, the leaves get pretty dense and it is hard for rainwater to penetrate to the soil.

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  3. Just chuckling about the horsetail with a buzz cut.

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    1. I should have used that line, Collagemama. I will next time.

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  4. Something satisfying about pre-spring cleanup. You're getting me motivated to get my tiny patio garden started...design work first. The sooner that's done, then time for fun! Maybe even a trip to DFW...

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    1. The only thing that concerns me about doing the clean up too early is disturbing the critters (the good ones) that may be overwintering in the old growth. For that reason, I am holding off on cleaning the backyard because we are supposed to have a cold spell this week. You are welcome to look me up if you make it out this way.

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  5. I did my cut-back last week and like you find an electric hedge trimmer very helpful. I haven't cut my cord yet, but this year I managed to cut a drip irrigation tube. Mostly I count myself lucky not to chop into a finger or leg.

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  6. It's always frustrating when you get those piles of leaves that just won't leave. Hard to believe that it's almost spring, but I'm so ready to see my garden "spring" back to life. :) I had to give my garden a trim a few weeks back.

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