How to prepare your garden for winter
Winter is almost here, with the last leaves falling from the trees and the first whisper of frost creeping across car windshields. For the green-fingered, winter garden preparation is key to giving your outdoor space the best possible chance of thriving when spring eventually comes round. After all, this time of year poses a number of threats to flora and fauna, from the risk of flooding and damaging winds to plant-killing frost. Here, we’ve set out five primary areas you should consider as you put your garden to bed for winter.
Garden tidy up
As November turns into December, clearing debris and getting your garden looking as tidy as possible is important. Remove all unwanted matter to your compost heap, cut back perennial plants to soil level and ensure that your potting shed is in order. However, soil will appreciate being left alone as it is living matter and needs protection from the ravages of winter – over digging can remove all of the natural decay that will have helped form a protective top layer.
Protect your plants
Tender plants need to be tucked up safe and warm for winter with a layer of protective insulation. Use horticultural fleece to wrap around delicate plants in your garden to give them better odds of surviving into the New Year. If you’re worried about any particularly flimsy looking plants, now is the time to give them a bit of support with stakes. Potted plants that you think may not weather the frost can be brought indoors for a winter spent in the warmth.
Protect your garden from water-logging and flooding
Last year, the UK encountered its wettest winter every recorded – and 2016/17 could be equally soggy. Flooding and water-logging can have a detrimental impact on your garden, making it important to prepare in case of another onslaught of rainfall. To prevent plants from rotting and dying, improve your soil through year-round cultivation and look to grow them in raised beds to elevate them out of harm’s way. Raised beds themselves can also benefit from an extra layer of protection from stone walling, which also adds a stylish aesthetic to your garden. Further flooding in your garden can be prevented through the installation of permeable paving, which allows water to quickly drain away rather than pooling and collecting. If you have a prized lawn, rake the leaves off it and aerate using a garden fork pushed right into the grass at intervals.
Planting bulbs for next year
Perhaps the most pleasurable early winter job is planting bulbs for springtime. Tulips, daffodils, pansies, bluebells and snowdrops… just the thought of them will remind you why you’re out there braving the cold. Whether you’re aiming for uniformity and symmetry or simply want a blaze of springtime blooms, this task will help you think of the bright months that lie ahead.
Look after local wildlife
The birds, insects and mammals that call your garden home are such an important part of its wellbeing – that’s why it’s in your interest to take care of them throughout winter. Top up your bird table regularly with nuts or leave seed heads on plants so that birds and other wildlife can feed off them. If you’ve got a garden pond make sure there’s always a hole in the ice for wildlife to use as an entrance and exit when they fancy a drink. If you’re really dedicated, you could even make an insect hotel and place it in a sheltered spot to help chilly ladybirds live to see another year.
You may need to wrap up, but by spending time and effort properly preparing your garden for winter you’re investing in a more colourful and rewarding spring.
Wednesday, 12nd April 2017