505Outside sat down with local landscape expert Wes Brittenham, Farm and Landscape Manager at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, to chat about Fall maintenance tasks for Albuquerque gardens. At Los Poblanos, Wes oversees all growing things on their 25 acres, from the historic gardens to the newer more xeric and multi-functional landscapes, as well as the kitchen garden and the fields of lavender.

Wes has noticed many homeowners with traditional landscaped yards keep them highly pruned with perfectly trimmed rounded plants free and clear of leaf litter and debris. Over the last 15 years, as homeowners have made the shift to xeriscape landscapes (aka desert friendly) he’s noticed they haven’t shifted their maintenance regimens. They should.

Xeriscape landscapes don’t require the rigorous maintenance that traditional landscapes do, so he’s been teaching homeowners to “get over the tidiness!” He wants homeowners to embrace the shape of native plants and, in general, do less yard work. Especially in the Fall.

When asked what homeowners can do to prepare their landscapes for winter, he gave us a short list of surprisingly simple to-dos:

  1. Leave it natural. There is no need to prune! So leave stems with seed heads in place. This includes grasses, perennials and shrubs. The dead stems, leaves and seed heads provide natural habitats for wildlife all winter. They also give the garden good structure over the winter. When Albuquerque gets a blanket of snow, the wispy seed heads of the grasses create a beautiful silhouette. Leaving dead foliage insulates the plants from winter freeze damage, too.
  2. Do clean up fruit and vegetable debris from gardens. This helps reduce bug populations and prevents fungus problems.
  3. Leave the leaves. When the trees start losing their leaves, rake them around the base of plants to provide habitat, retain moisture, and create natural mulch under the plant.

With over four decades of experience, Wes’s advice is extremely useful for local homeowners. Efficiency is key, so use his three simple tips for a great fall and winter landscape and minimal yard work this Fall.

Expert: Wes Brittenham, Farm and Landscape Manager at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm