How to prepare your garden for winter this year
As the weather cools and the days get shorter, you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s little you can do but briefly neglect your garden until spring comes around.
That is not the case, however, as the budding Titchmarsh-es among you know very well.
Now is the perfect opportunity to prepare your garden for the coming winter months.
Unless the upcoming winter is an unusually mild one, your grass will likely not need mowing very often, because its growth slows considerably. For that reason, it’s best to raise the cut to winter height.
The year’s regular cuts will most likely cease around November time, but that isn’t an excuse to have a scruffy looking lawn. A light cut at any particular time is recommended to keep your garden looking clean and presentable, however, it’s best not to mow when it’s frosty as this can damage your grass. So keep an eye on the height of your grass, check the forecast and be ready to get out your lawn mower at some point over the winter.
We also recommend fertilising your lawn around this time, as this will help to restore its health and encourage growth.
Soil improvement and weeding
On areas that receive a fair amount of wear, such as paths and play areas, soil can become compacted which can cause drainage issues. It’s suggested that you make deep holes with a garden fork across the area, which can help with both drainage and aeration.
Winter is actually a great time to allow your soil to recuperate its nutrients, and there are a few things you can do to help it.
You may think that adding compost to the soil will have its nutrients washed away when it rains, however, the rain will in fact just wash the nutrients straight into the soil. Now is the best time to add compost in case the spring turns out to be particularly mild, which has become a trend of late.
Compost also helps to protect plants from hard frost. We recommend adding a layer of compost followed by a layer of mulch. This can even offer something for wildlife to nibble on.
In terms of pesky weeds, any time spent de-weeding now will mean less time de-weeding in the spring. We aren’t adverse to weed killer, but do some of your own research so that you aren’t harming any other plants.
Plants and borders
It used to be that, during the winter months, gardens were left stripped back and empty. Yet it’s become increasingly common for people to put in the effort to keep their garden looking full and colourful during this time. The plants and flowers that can transform your dreary outdoors include heather, cyclamen, pansies, and snowdrops.
Some of your more delicate perennials will need to be removed and placed indoors so they aren’t killed by the cold. The more hardy ones will just need trimming back to ground level, but you may want to collect any seeds the plants have produced first. We would suggest leaving some seed heads in place however, to provide some border decoration.
Any annual plants such as poppies should be dug up, as it’s more productive to add them to the compost heap than to try to revive and maintain them in the New Year because they’re normally unable to live through the cold.
One final tip is to make sure you protect any young trees or saplings with winter materials such as fleece, straw or bracken.
If you have a greenhouse, now is a great time to remove any potential shading, as the shorter days will leave any vegetables or plants you may still have pining for that scarce but valuable sunlight. Maximising the light can also be achieved by giving the glass a clean with some hot water and a good scrub.
Now is also a great time to remove leaves that may have blocked up any guttering, and repair or replace any broken glass.
If you’re taking care to prepare and repair the outside of your greenhouse, now would equally be a great opportunity to tackle the inside too. It’s best to remove all plants and sweep away plant debris, disinfecting the paths and staging, as well as the inside of the glass. You will need to then ventilate your greenhouse for a few days to allow it to dry thoroughly.
Before storing your garden equipment away for a while, give it all a good clean, oiling any metal parts to prevent rusting.
This applies to your mower, as well. Clean it both inside and out, and determine whether it will need any maintenance, such as blade sharpening, or if it’s time for an upgrade now is the perfect time to get a great deal on a new mower. Why not search on-line to find a bargain, www.mowers-online.co.uk currently have some amazing deals.