I have a couple of questions. first do you recommend cutting down perennials...

Asked October 21, 2015, 1:22 PM EDT

I have a couple of questions. first do you recommend cutting down perennials this time of year or leaving them stand? I also planted 2 varieties of trees this year which are zone 4 hardy, but winter protection is considered a good idea. a spring wonder cheery tree and a northern variety eastern redbud. my question; is hay considered the best material for covering the root system and when do you recommend covering the trees?

Hennepin County Minnesota

3 Responses

Whether you cut back your perennial or not is a personal decision. I recommend that you leave them up (unless they are diseased) and cut them down in the spring. The stalks will catch leaves and snow and protect the crown. If you do cut them down, mulch the plants after the ground freezes. Wood mulch is good for covering the root system of your trees but it should be kept away from the trunk. Mulch pushed up against the trunk makes a wonderful home for mice and voles.
Your tree trunks should be protected from critters this winter. Voles and rabbits can chew all the way around the trunk (girdle) and that will cut off nutrients to the tree above that point. It will kill that upper portion of your tree. Please visit this link and pay particular attention to the section on Rodents http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/protecting-from-winter-damage/

thanks for the info in your initial response but I am still not sure as to when to put down the hay to cover the trees I asked about in my original question. I got everything I needed to know other than when to put the hay down?


If you have already bought the hay, then put it down after the ground is frozen. That usually that is sometime in December. Keep it away from the trunks of the trees by several inches. If you haven't already bought hay, then we recommend that you put wood mulch over the roots of trees to prevent competition from grass. The wood mulch is left there year round.