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Old 12-12-2011, 10:48 AM   #1
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


I've got a question about this mass of plants next to my driveway. I think they are some kind of perennial but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure what to do with them. Here is a picture of the mess of plants:


My neighbor mentioned to me that I should "cut them back". How far do I cut down? Do I go right down to the soil and shear everything off? As you can see in the picture most of the stuff is dead on the ground. But what about the things still standing? Are those weeds? Should I cut those too?

I am a complete gardening noob, so any help would be greatly appreciated thanks!

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Old 12-12-2011, 12:31 PM   #2
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


How long have you lived there? (In other words, do you know what it looked like last spring/summer?)

What do you want to do with it? Are you going to take up gardening and replant or keep it up, or would you rather have it grass?

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Old 12-12-2011, 12:48 PM   #3
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


Sorry, should have mentioned that. I have only been in the house for a couple of months, and so they were already dead when I moved in (mid-October).

I managed to find a picture of the house over the summer (from the old real estate listing):


I currently know little to nothing about gardening, but would like to learn. Would be nice to keep the plants there.

I just don't know what I need to trim and cut now.
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Old 12-12-2011, 01:31 PM   #4
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


I really don't know much more about gardening than you do.
I'd be tempted to cut it all down to the ground for now, get rid of the leaves etc., and then start from scratch so you know what you have.

Hopefully someone more knowledgeable can offer some more constructive suggestions.
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Old 12-12-2011, 02:19 PM   #5
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


I think I would allow it to remain as-is for the winter. Then early next spring pull and remove all the dead debris. By next spring the dead vegetation will be easy to remove without damaging anything you may think you would like to have come back. Then sit back and see what develops. As time goes on you will be able to better decide what is worth keeping and what isn't.

The photo of the plantings when they were new seems like some planning must have gone into what is there. If it survives and suits you then you have saved some money.
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Old 12-12-2011, 05:59 PM   #6
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


Bud has the right idea, just wait till next spring and all the taller stuff( looks like daises or black eyed susans) will be dead enough to just pull up and or break off.You will be surprised as to what will come up but give it plenty of time. It will be mid summer till all is up .
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Old 12-13-2011, 06:58 AM   #7
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


I agree, those look like black-eyed susans (or what is left or them). However, the second picture of the house makes me think that these are the remnants from some variety of spirea. It looks as if that bed had some lillies, also.

I would cut it all down to the ground. Lillies will come back each year. Cutting the spirea will keep it nice and compact. If it happens to be black-eyed susan, cutting it to the ground will also be good. Your choice to do now or wait. It is purely a cosmetic issue at this point, whether you want to look at this all winter. Yes, it may be easier in the spring, but may not. If you have the time now and weather is nice, I say do it now.

Last edited by oberkc; 12-13-2011 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:24 AM   #8
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


The look like black eyed susans or coneflower. I'd leave them for the above reasons , as well as birds feed on the seeds during winter
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:21 AM   #9
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


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Originally Posted by creeper View Post
The look like black eyed susans or coneflower. I'd leave them for the above reasons , as well as birds feed on the seeds during winter

Good one, I missed that.The gold finches probably love it.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:38 PM   #10
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


Well I will offer a different opinion and suggest you winterize the space. Leaving dead, unmulched yard debris begs for fungus and mold to get into it until a snow pack and hard freeze gets here (surprised you are not buried already!) and certainly while you wait for it to melt. If you do leave it, make sure it is on your early spring to do list.
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Old 12-15-2011, 09:09 AM   #11
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


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Originally Posted by sdsester View Post
Well I will offer a different opinion and suggest you winterize the space. Leaving dead, unmulched yard debris begs for fungus and mold to get into it until a snow pack and hard freeze gets here (surprised you are not buried already!) and certainly while you wait for it to melt. If you do leave it, make sure it is on your early spring to do list.
I agree completely. Trim it down to the ground and get all the debris off there. Perennials will come back just fine.

Another thing to consider, is that in a snowy climate, this stuff can catch snow and cause huge drifts to blow across your driveway.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:42 PM   #12
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Question on cutting back perennials (I think)


Everything I see in this picture will be safe to cut back for the winter....and will keep it looking cleaned up.
Until then, let the plants sleep for the winter and by spring, when things start filling back in, you'll be able to decide what you'd like to do. It looks like a cute little bed so far, and not very hard to manage, you may find that you really like it in the end.

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