Winter is just around the corner, and even though the growing season has come to a close, our work in the garden isn’t quite done. Now that most of your plant’s activity has slowed, it presents the perfect opportunity to get certain jobs done in prep for colder weather.
It may be tempting to stay indoors, as gardening in the cold isn’t always the easiest. However, the time to get these jobs done is now! Take advantage and follow these gardening tips and tricks for winter.
It’s Time To Clean Up
First things first, it’s time to do some tidying up. After a busy spring, summer, and autumn, you’ll need to get all of your tools ready for the new year.
Gather everything together and start removing any tools caked in soil and rust. Give everything a good rinse with water, and be sure to dry any metal tools properly to avoid more rust forming.
Remove any soil from inside empty plant pots and seed trays, and make sure to rinse them out as well. If any pots contained plants that suffered with disease, disinfect them with a mild detergent ready to start a fresh.
Don’t forget to wipe down any bottles of fertiliser or weed killer, making sure that all caps are screwed on properly and no product is leaking from them.
You should also take this chance to clear out your shed or greenhouse. Scrub down the surfaces and sweep the floors, then arrange all your cleaned tools and pots in your freshly organised space.
Now that everything is clean and in it’s place, it will make caring for your garden going forwards much easier!
Make the most of the dormant season by pruning your shrubs and trees. This is especially important if, after a busy growing season, they have increased in size beyond what you are happy with, or if they have started to intrude on a neighbour’s garden.
Start with your trees as these will probably be the tallest features in your garden. Cut back what you can, but don’t make the common tree care mistake of cutting back too much! This can be detrimental to your tree, depending on its type. Make sure you also enlist the help of a friend or family member to keep you safe whilst cutting back a tree, especially if you are working at height.
Next, move onto your shrubs and bushes. Many benefit from pruning to help encourage new, healthy growth in the spring, so be sure to cut as much as is necessary for each species. Some require extreme pruning, while others do better from a minimal amount.
When you are finished with all the cutting and pruning, you will be left with a lot of waste material. If you compost, add what you can to your pile to fertilise your soil in the springtime. What’s left can be added to your brown bin for collection.
If you have too much to fit in your brown bin, and you don’t fancy making multiple trips to your local green waste bank, consider getting a skip or other alternatives to remove what’s left. If you’re lucky enough to own a van, or know someone with one who can help, definitely take as much as you can to be recycled.
Work with Wildlife
Where possible, consider setting aside a small part of your garden for winter wildlife.
Laying out fat blocks and other food will help keep local wildlife fed over the winter, especially if the weather is harsher than normal. Try putting bird seed on a raised surface or platform, or hanging a bird feeder from a branch. Make sure you use a metal feeder to stop squirrels from chewing holes.
Create a pile of fallen leaves to act as shelter, or a place to hibernate over the winter for small mammals and insects. You can also try piling logs on top of each other, or even buy a ready made hibernation house at your local garden centre.
Winter isn’t the time to forget about your lawn! It still needs a bit of attention to keep it healthy during the colder weather.
After a busy summer in the garden, your lawn could do with a break. Where possible, reduce footfall and try to keep off the grass as much as you can. Your grass’ growth slows down considerably, meaning that any damage caused will be difficult and slow to repair.
Before the first frost is a great time to aerate your lawn. After heavy footfall throughout the year, the soil has probably become quite compacted. This in turn inhibits your lawn’s ability to grow deep roots and get to nutrients beneath the top layers of ground.
By aerating your lawn, oxygen can penetrate down to the roots as well as loosening the soil and allowing for better root growth come the next growing season.
General Winter Protection and Improvements
Don’t forget about the more general tasks to carry out around your garden. Start by bringing as many of your potted plants as possible inside to protect them from the cold. Those that are left outside should be raised up on pot feet to prevent any waterlogging, and their pots should be wrapped in bubble wrap or hessian to fight root freezing.
Now is the time to check your fencing to see if any panels are loose or need fixing. Carry out any needed work before the weather takes a turn for the worse and high winds arrive, when they could get damaged further. Do the same for your gates and shed.
Now that your flowers beds are empty, it’s the perfect time to start adding nutrients back into the soil ready for new plants or veggies. Add compost or fertiliser now, then apply a layer of mulch on top to stop the nutrients from washing away with any winter rains.
If it snows, make sure you shake the excess from the top of bushes and the branches of trees. The extra weight can make them become disfigured, and it’s unlikely that they will bounce back easily.
Remove snow from greenhouse roofs and plant covers to allow light in and to get rid of the extra weight.
Enjoy Your Winter Garden
Taking care of your garden during the winter will not only feel rewarding, but it will put you in good stead for the spring. With all of these jobs complete, you’ll be ready to dive into planting and growing come the new season.
Plus, you will have given the local wildlife a helping hand in the process of ticking off your to-do list!
And once everything is taken care of, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy your garden with a warm drink in hand.
Kevin is an avid gardener and DIYer and enjoys reading related gardening and home improvement articles. Working for Grabco, he gets to see a lot of the projects that homeowners embark on and the resulting transformations. He also picks up a lot of fresh ideas and current trends, so enjoys writing about them to share with other like-minded readers.