In this article we run down how to prepare your garden for winter.
With autumn in full swing, the most rewarding part of gardening is behind us for another year. Lawns need mowing less frequently and weeds don’t seem to be coming through as thick and fast. Even the soft fruits are tailing off.
But this isn’t the time to give up on your garden. There’s lots you can do to prepare it for a potentially harsh winter, and to make it ready for the burst of life next spring. So, where to start?
Let’s run down how to prepare your garden for winter.
Feed the soil
If there’s one good thing about autumn and winter gardening, it’s this: falling leaves and collapsing stems are excellent at adding nutrients to soil. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be helping the process along!
Now is the time to empty your compost bin and spread the contents around the garden to fertilise the soil. Start collecting the next lot together while you’re at it.
“Now is the time to empty your compost bin and spread the contents around the garden to fertilise the soil.”
Make sure leaves are moist and leave them to rot down for a couple of years. With larger leaves, such as sycamore and horse chestnut, there’s no harm in shredding them first to aid the process.
After the ground freezes, spread a winter mulch over any bare soil in the garden. Spread evergreen boughs over bulb beds.
A new season is a time to refresh your garden and winter’s no exception.
Tidying borders will keep your garden looking trim and well-cared for, even when summer blooms start to fade and the leaves drop. As leaves do fall, clearly defined borders will help you garden retain a sense of shape and structure, which many gardeners lose beneath sudden drops of leaves or even snow.
Edgings are a simple and striking way of doing this. We offer a range of different styles and patterns, and would be happy to advise you on which best complement your garden.
You can also cut back perennials, before adding some of that wonderful compost to the soil. Cut down dead flower stems. Dig up and discard any weeds and diseased plants.
Not everything slows down over winter. (But if you’ve experienced kids in the run-up to Christmas, you already know this.) If you grow fruit and vegetables, be ready to harvest aubergines, apples, beetroot, blackberries, cranberries, pears, pumpkin, and, of course, brussels sprouts across October, November, and December.
You can even enlist the children to help, keeping them occupied while teaching them about seasonality. Just keep an eye on how much of the harvest they pick compared to how much they eat…
Plant (and repot) for the season
You may think planting season is over, but far from it. There are plenty of new plants you can add to your garden at this time of year, not least the next lot of annuals. It’s a good time for planting raspberries and currants too.
This includes repotting those plants that won’t survive the cold in a pot or planter that you can move inside. Planters can range from truly quirky items like old boots or children’s toys (outgrown toys only!) to heavy stone pots in designs that will make them centrepieces in your conservatory or kitchen.
Winter can make gardens look pretty bleak, but it can be much improved by having plenty of evergreens. As winter approaches, it’s a great time to start planting them. The mix of warmer soil and cooler air that exists at this time of year suits them down to the ground, so shop around for plants that will give you year-round colour and interest.
Compost leaf matter
For nature, summer is the party season. But after all good parties, you need to clear up.
Leaf matter and decaying fruit need to be cleared away and put on the compost heap, and you need to clear out this year’s annuals and plant the next lot.
“For nature, summer is the party season. But after all good parties, you need to clear up.”
Leaf mould gives you fantastic compost after a year or two, so collect fallen leaves with a rake and put them into a leaf bin. Wire mesh is the ideal material for this.
Remember that a lot of waste serves a purpose. Keep it in designated areas and use it instead of disposing of it.
Clear out the shed
Don’t forget to clear out your shed. If you’re an avid gardener, your shed or greenhouse can become very cluttered and chaotic over summer, so now is a good time to sort it out.
Feed and shelter vulnerable wildlife
Bird feeders need to be cleaned and put up, but it’s important to leave natural food sources, too. Whilst cutting back and tidying, remember to leave some plants standing as they can still contain seeds and insects.
Leaving dead leaves and plant waste in piles at the fringes of your garden also provides shelter for insects and small animals to hibernate.
Protect young trees from animals
…because you want to encourage wildlife into your garden but not at the expense of your plants.
Young trees are particularly vulnerable, which is why you should cover their bark in a layer of wire mesh or other tree protection products. This will prevent animals from gnawing on the bark and damaging the young tree.
SUMMARY: How to prepare your garden for winter
- Feed the soil
- Tidy borders
- Harvest winter fruit and vegetables
- Plant (and repot) for the season
- Compost leaf matter
- Clear out the shed
- Feed and shelter vulnerable wildlife
Of course, winter gardening doesn’t stop here. In fact, preparing your garden for winter is just the beginning.