Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring Clean-up: How and when to cut down grasses. (And other miscellaneous stuff.)

I love my grasses.  I think they are beautiful most of the year, with the exception of just after getting their crew cut, but then since they look neat and tidy, they are forgiven for being boring because they will soon be regrowing.  I have several varieties of grasses, both native and non-native, short and tall.  I do like to intentionally add native plants to my gardens, but I will not pass up a pleasing, non-invasive plant either.  I believe moderation is good in everything, much to the dismay of fellow friends who are loudly proud native only gardeners.  Technically, I may not be considered native either but I figure if I am a good steward of my space, I will be welcomed to stay.  I have kicked out a grass or two who were not good neighbors and one of them was a native.

Winter beauty

Many landscape companies cut down all the grasses during their fall clean-up.  I assume because it is easier to manage then and is one less thing to do in the spring when it is busier.   I leave them up all winter when they are golden blond and add a welcome bit of color to our mostly grey, black and white theme of dreary.  Late winter or early spring is when I cut them down.   The timing is mainly up to the weather.  A nice day is a good day, but if I let too many nice days in a row pass by, I may be too late.

This grouping of grasses surround the electrical and cable pole tied down.

The goal is to cut the dead foliage back to about 4 inches above the base.  If I have timed it correctly, the stems will all be dead and cut easily.  If I am too late, the new shoots will be coming up and they will be cut off with the dead and sometimes this makes the cut “mooshy”.   This doesn’t really hurt the grass too much, it just makes the tips look a bit tattered for a while until more new growth covers up the cut ends.  This year we got it perfectly.

Our scripture verse sign garden
Yes, these are truly ginormous.  These are zebra grasses next to a 7 foot tall arbor.

We have found that cutting down the grasses is better done as a two person job.  When attempted alone, it takes much longer and is harder to do.  However, we do have a trick to share with you if you are without a partner in decapitating.

T demonstrating proper cutting height with a hedge trimmers as tool of choice.

We use a hedge trimmers to cut down our grass.  You can also use an electric trimmer or a chain saw to get the job done.  We have found that it can be difficult to see what you are doing when cutting so we need a grass cutter and a grass wrangler to make it go smoother.  Since T prefers I do not handle sharp objects, I am the designated wrangler.  "Shannon’s ban on using sharp objects" is a subject for another blog… hopefully about past accidents and not new ones.

Giving my grass a hug.
Like my Blue Booby Bird boots?

I hold all the grass and slowly pull it towards me as T cuts so that he is able to see where he is cutting and the grass doesn’t jam up the trimmer.  If you are without a partner, you can take a bungee cord and wrap it around the grass while you cut.

The bungee cord variation.
Neat and tidy grasses ready for another year.
New sign and new haircuts.

The grass clippings are wonderful as mulch.  We put all of our grass cuttings into a pile for T to chip up.  This gets used as mulch in the garden.  I have a lot of grass but by the time it comes out of the chipper, the pile seems very small.

Scratchy and itchy grasses.  I sneezed all evening.

So if you haven’t cut back your grasses yet, I strongly encourage you to do so this week.  Well, if you live in my area, we are supposed to have a wonderfully warm and sunny week which will get all the plants growing after several weeks of snow and rain.

In other news, (here comes the miscellaneous) I planted, transplanted and pruned a number of plants and planted some seeds.  T and my dad are currently working on my new potting bench so in the meantime I used my kitchen table.  A piece of ginger had sprouted so I planted that along with a purchased dahlia root called Crazy Love.  Since I normally start my dahlias from seed and then save the roots year to year, I hope this one has a larger flower than the seed dahlias' petite 3 inch flowers.

Yep, those are yogurt containers that I punched holes in the bottom of.

Final tally:

Amaryllis – this was given to me by someone who drowned it and killed all the roots.  I cleaned it up, let it dry out for a day and repotted it into the correct size pot.  They like to be crowded in a smaller pot.  I do not know if it can be rescued or not yet.

Cape Flower (Nerine bowenii) – spring planted bulbs that are not hardy here despite the seller’s assurances they were when I purchased them at the GR Home and Garden Show.  Yes, I’m disgruntled.  They either straight up lied to me or didn’t know what they were talking about… as a plant vendor… at a garden show.  I hope the flower display makes it worth the work of digging them up every fall.  They were already sending up green shoots so I figured I had better plant them and transplant them out later after it is warm enough.  T says I need to let it go... please help me forgive your seller by being awesome little bulbs.

Dahlia – Crazy Love root purchased for cheap at Aldi because I couldn’t help it.  I potted up because it was already sprouting and it couldn’t wait until it was warm enough to be planted outside.  I do dig up my dahlias every fall and store them overwinter because I do think they are that awesome.

9 Etrog citron trees – were transplanted into larger containers.  As a general rule, their roots were not at all crowded in the container despite what they looked like on top.  They did have a long tap root that was in danger of bottoming out though.

Ginger root – my ginger plants from last year died because it was too cold in the basement for it.  I am trying again for the third time to grow this plant.  I just let my ginger root purchased for food from the grocery store sprout and plant that.  I have no trouble getting a plant to grow, it just doesn’t like my cold winters.

Rosemary plant – purchased from the store and it needed to be put into a larger pot.

Sedum Seed – I purchased a package of Sedum Roof Garden Mix seeds this spring and it is supposed to have 5,000 seeds in it.  I don’t know if it actually does but they are tiny and there are quite a few in the envelope.  I poured a small bit out and planted 6 small pots.  It has a germination time of 2 to 3 weeks and it needs to be kept moist and uncovered during that time.  Best place for them to go is in my little greenhouse.

Tiny, tiny seeds... do NOT sneeze.  They are just a bit bigger than petunia seeds.
Little greenhouse back in action and labeled.  Those are sweet potato tubers to the right that I am growing slips from.  The one in the back is a white edible one, the one in front is a variegated ornamental sweet potato vine.
No room in the inn, er window.  This is our south facing slider.
T is not happy that the plants have taken over his sun spot to sit in.

T lovingly gave up his lunch break Frisbee golf game for me to help put up the outdoor greenhouse today.  The warm temperatures and the diffused light from the plastic will hopefully ease the transition from inside to out.  I moved all the big stuff along with the transplanted etrog trees out.  Since I did not have enough yogurt containers, I only transplanted half of them.  If the transplanted ones are unhappy about staying out overnight, I will have the still indoor ones as back up.  I am hoping to keep a couple and sell the rest at Sukkot this fall.

What looked so crowded inside seems bare outside.
I moved the two fig trees and the Ashitaba out along with the 3 amaryllis plants.
It will be nice to not have to dodge their floppy leaves while trying to get out the slider.
My fig tree is showing signs of life after being dormant all winter in the basement.

I will leave you with one last picture.  Remember I planted 50 crocuses and 20 daffodils along the west side of the house in the hosta bed last fall?  (I did a blog about it here)  I had a group of large crocus come up earlier this spring and then get the tail end of their bloom destroyed by a couple inches of late snow.  I thought that all the crocuses had been finished.  Today, while walking around with my camera, I discovered act 2 of the crocus display.  The second act on the whole was very much smaller in size than act 1, but oh so pretty in the sun.  I was delighted.  The daffodils are coming along nicely for act 3.

How delightful!  Sunshine and flowers…. Joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment