by Mike Lizotte
Autumn is a great time for gardening- especially sowing wildflowers. It’s also a great time to do some end of the year maintenance on your existing meadow as well.
So it’s the middle of October and most of your flowers have faded and gone to seed. You’ve got lots of dried brown stalks and you’re not quite sure what to do.
To mow or not to mow?
It’s a common dilemma that arises this time of year. The truth is there’s really no right or wrong time to mow. I do recommend waiting as long as possible to mow, as we want to make sure all the fall wildflower species have gone to seed. This will increase the chances of reseeding and increase the volume of plants in coming seasons. It’s also beneficial for wildlife, as they look to eat and store the flower seed for food to get through the coming winter.
Certainly if the area becomes an eye sore, or you live in a neighborhood that you need to keep the area maintained, mowing earlier in the season is not the end of the world. We certainly don’t want to get you in trouble with your neighbors or home association!
How low do you mow?
No need to scalp the plants. A brush mower or lawnmower on the highest setting will work just fine. In smaller areas, a weed whacker will also do the trick.
Once you’ve mowed I usually recommend leaving the cuttings on the area, at least through the winter months. You can then rake off in the spring. Again, leaving the cuttings increases the chances of reseeding the following spring. If you have to rake the cuttings, not a problem. If you do end up raking, it does present a great opportunity to add more seed at the same time. If you’ve got some exposed areas that could use a little “jump start” next spring, throw some seed down.
If you just get too busy in the fall and you don’t get to mowing, don’t sweat it! You can always leave things and mow or cut down in the spring.
Now the leaves are changing and autumn is here. Our “second season” of planting is upon us.
What are you waiting for? Get out in the garden and enjoy!