Ideally you burn off the old vegetation but I live in a town where the neighbors and Fire Department would look askance, nay have a conniption fit, if I set fire to the backyard.
I tried an ordinary gas powered string trimmer and it could not cope. It didn't even make a dent in the tough stalks.
This is what I need:
DR String Trimmer
But alas, I lack the $500 to $700 for it and couldn't justify the cost anyway. I used to have one but lost custody in the divorce.
This is what I have:
It got the job done but it was a brutal job. I dragged at the stalks with the rake and periodically hacked with a machete, loaded it all onto a tarp and dragged it to the curb.
Mostly Penstemon in bloom
Bumblebees love Penstemon. I watched them burrow deep into a flower, back out and bumble on the the next.