As we rake leaves and prepare for winter’s onset, some of the plant material in our Chicagoland gardens remind us of the harsh, dry and very hot temperatures from the summer months. Give your stressed trees and shrubs some time. If they have experienced a complete loss of foliage don’t remove these plants now. It is definitely worth waiting until spring to see if they bounce back on their own. We’ve had some good rains this fall, and that, combined with the dormant winter season may help the plants recover.
Did you know that it’s natural for pine needles to turn brown or yellow and drop off? True, the amount of brown needles will increase when stressed, such as in a drought year. According to the University of Illinois Extension, “Some years, the needles on a pine will yellow and drop unnoticed by the homeowner. In other years, a large number of needles yellow at the same time. The condition is triggered by the weather and other stress factors.” Different species of evergreens lose needles at different rates. You may want to check your evergreens next spring to see if they’ve recovering. But, remember that a loss of needles is normal.
Similarly, perennials that look stressed now may recover and bounce back next year. Pruning rather than removing is recommended. Many perennials should be pruned in the fall, such as roses and those that die back, like hostas. You may want to keep those that have seeds, such as echinacea, for the winter birds in the area. Other plants can provide winter interest, such as ornamental grasses, sedum and hydrangea.
Late fall is a great time to apply a layer of mulch around beds. Try to wait until the cold sets in, and then apply a layer around trees, shrubs and perennials. Remember to keep the mulch a few inches from tree trunks.
Once your garden has been put to bed for the winter, you can enjoy the quiet and begin next year’s planning. If you know others who have an interest in making their outdoor space beautiful, consider giving them a gift certificate for landscape planning, installation or maintenance. It’s an investment that will be appreciated for years. Call us to order O’Donovan Landscaping holiday gift certificates in any dollar amount. They make perfect gifts!