A Family Guide to Getting the Garden Ready for WinterColin Campbell-Preston
Whilst the temptation to hang up your gardening gloves as soon as the clocks roll back can be strong, it can be something of a fool’s errand. Ignoring the garden, left forgotten under a blanket of fallen leaves or snow, can leave you with an uphill battle when spring takes hold next year. Before you can get to work on planting all those springtime favourites, you’ll have five months of clearing and cleaning to get through before you can even start the prep work.
At Capital Gardens, we’re sticklers for planning ahead, preparing and making gardening in the near future as simple, straightforward and enjoyable as possible. This is why we adhere to this simple checklist to ensure that our gardens are prepared for the colder climes and adverse conditions of the winter months. And we always get our family to do their bit as well, making the task more enjoyable and pass that bit quicker.
From clearing the old plants from the ground to planting new ones in their place; the checklist includes everything to help you quickly get your garden prepped for the colder months. This is our family guide to getting the garden ready for winter.
Clean Sweep Old and Dead Plants
One of the more satisfying tasks of the winter prep is also one of the most important, removing all the dead annual flowers and vegetables, as well as all the bulbs. Perennial flowers should also be cut back to the ground, so they can grow afresh in the coming year.
Dead leaves should be continuously raked and cleared from the ground during the autumn months, so they are not given the chance to spread disease to the lawns and flowerbeds. Collecting up fallen leaves can be a fun job for the younger members of the family, so kit them out with a suitable rake and put them to work clearing the leaves and adding them to the compost heap.
A strict weed and algae hunt should also be undertaken, ensuring that all offenders (roots and all) are lifted from the ground, patio and pond. This will help keep your garden looking its best, and protect against the threat of infestation.
Trim Back Trees, Bushes and Shrubs
Trimming back trees, bushes and shrubs can help ensure they’re kept neat and controlled over the winter months. Not only will this ensure that you don’t head back into a wild jungle-esque garden when the weather picks up next spring, but will also give the new buds a chance to grow over the next 12 months.
This will help create a thicker, healthier appearance for the trees, bushes and shrubs. A little fertiliser can be added around the roots of these plants, to help improve growth during the colder months.
Fortify the Lawn
Mowing the lawn is one of those gardening jobs which quickly goES from once a fortnight to once every few months as soon as the weather takes a turn for the worse. However, we’d strongly recommend that you continue mowing the lawn to a height of roughly two inches, and ensure that the grass is not covered by fallen leaves.
A 1/2-inch layer of compost should be applied to the lawn at this time of year as well, helping to rebuild and strengthen the root system. A little reseeding should take place in some of the more sun-exposed areas of the garden.
It’s also advisable to continue watering the lawn throughout the autumn and winter if there isn’t a great deal of rainfall. It’s very easy to overlook this task during a cold but dry winter.
Welcome Wintering Birds
The birds of Britain need us in the winter more than any other time of year, when food and water can be scarce. Berries and bugs may be in short supply during the winter months, and the usual supplies of water may have completely frozen over – leaving the poor birds without sustenance.
So, they’ll no doubt appreciate your consideration if you put out bird baths and feeders full of food to help them through the winter. Fat balls, in particular, can help our little feathered friends put on much-needed weight during the coldest stretches of the year.
Waterproof the Wood
If your garden shed or wooden fencing has not received a lick of multi-year protective paint in recent times, now is the perfect time to lap on the layers. The rainy, slushy and cold conditions of autumn, winter and early spring are the most testing for woods exposed to the elements, so a comprehensive layer of wood-protecting paint or varnish can help to keep your shed and fences strong and looking their best.
Our Cleaning and Treatments range is full of great protective treatments and oils which will help keep your wooden structures strong and attractive.
Maximise Greenhouse Sunlight
If you’ve got any plants growing in your greenhouse, it’s time to ensure that the amount of sunlight they receive is absolutely maximised. So, if you’ve placed any shade cover in the greenhouse to try and control the sun exposure, now is the time to remove it. At the very depths of winter, the UK only receives at most eight hours of sun per day, and much of this will be clouded over and weak – so it’s vital that any sun is maximised.
Position any plants within the greenhouse in the areas which receive the most amount of sun, so they’ve got maximum chance to soak up the life-giving rays.
Prepare Tools and Accessories
After a busy year of gardening, your tools may be looking a little worse for wear, and could benefit from a little TLC. As we’re approaching a period when your gardening activity is likely to take a downturn, we believe it is the perfect opportunity to carry out gardening tool maintenance tasks. The lawn mower, in particular, could benefit from a professional service before it is sent to the garden shed for months at a time.
Just a simple round of maintenance can ensure that all of your tools are prepped and ready for another year of gardening.
Plant Hardy Crops
A number of wonderfully hardy crops can still be planted out in the garden as late as November to grow underground during the winter months. Many of these will then be in full bloom or ready to harvest in early spring – earning envious stares from the neighbours. We’ve recently covered the seven best crops to plant as the winter months close in, and you can read it here.
At the three Capital Gardens stores, we stock everything you need to get your gardens winter ready. Head over to our three store locations to find your winter garden-proofing essentials.