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Please be aware that cleaning up too much in the fall can destroy many butterfly and moth species. For example, Pearl Crescent butterflies winter over on Asters as 2-3 instars (caterpillars). Many chrysalis winter over on the stems of your garden plants. Some moths winter over on trees and shrubs, while others fall down in the leaf litter and winter over there. Luna moths for example winter over in leaf litter. Their major hosts plants (what their caterpillars eat) are Walnut, Sweet Gum, and Hickory. Some areas are better to be racked and carefully spread out in another area so that these moths have a chance to emerge in the late spring. Or if you don't need to rank the area, just leave it.

If you must cut back your garden in the fall, then think about stacking that material in an another areas so that maybe those butterflies that are wintering over as chrysalis might have a chance to emerge. This was a recommendation from Cole Burrell, a gardener designer who uses a lot of native plants in his own landscape.

I leave most of my seed heads for the birds to enjoy in the winter. I don't do any major trimming back of my backyard until May. I trim back most of the front for my HOA and stack that in the back.

Thanks for the tool recommendation.


Excellent information Mona, we all need to think about the moths and butterflies. Putting your cut tops in an area to let them sit is a great idea. If one absolutely needs to cut back perennials, it's an option. Keeping them up for winter is a better one. Thanks so much.

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