Those of us garden lovers look after our plants in all seasons, but most especially just before the arrival of the harsh winter. We know from experience that wind, rain, snow and frost can wipe out all the work that we have previously done in the garden, and for this reason it is very important to start preparing the garden for winter.
Preparing the garden for winter
Preventing damage to plants
Plants grown in pots usually appreciate a change of location in winter to get more sunshine and enjoy warmer temperatures. Group them together so that they can protect each other. Don’t forget about their roots: protect the pot with newspaper, bubble wrap or straw mulch to slightly increase the temperature of the soil in the pots. Your plants’ roots will thank you for it.
It never hurts to buy a few metres or bags of garden fleece frost cover to cover trees, shrubs and other types of plants. Unlike plastic, this material allows the plant to breathe and the light to reach it. It can also be used to cover cultivation tunnels in your vegetable garden.
Preparing the garden for winter: lawn care
Lawn really benefits from a good scarification in the autumn, which will help drainage and reduce the appearance of moss. This is also a good time to reseed those unsightly bold areas in the lawn.
If the weather gets very humid, the best option is to apply an anti-moss product. It will provide the lawn with two essential nutrients for the winter: iron and sulfur. After applying the product and waiting for it to act, you will be able to simply remove both moss and thatch with a rake.
Do not mow the lawn, let it grow so it can cope better with the low winter temperatures. In late autumn, apply a fertiliser rich in phosphorus and potassium, which will also help it survive the winter. And as much as it is possible, avoid stepping on it when frozen.
Pruning trees and shrubs
Another way of preparing the garden for winter is pruning trees and shrubs, as most plants are dormant during the cold season. The absence of foliage will allow you to better see the trees’ branches in order to prune them, as well as to apply preventive treatments to eliminate pests that hide in their bark during the winter.
This is also the time to prune rose bushes, wisteria, and apple and pear trees: they will really benefit from it, and you will see the results in the spring with new and more productive shoots.
Winter gardening: fine-tune your greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, remove any structure that you have put in place to provide shade during the summer. In the winter you have to make the most of the sunshine and the heat that it provides. If this is your first year with a greenhouse, keep an eye on it for a few days to figure out which areas get more hours of sunshine during the day, and put your plants there.
Check the condition of the polycarbonate sheets for possible tears and breaks. Make sure the paraffin burners are up and ready, just in case you need to turn them on. Also, check that the ground anchoring system is in good condition.
Add mulch and compost to your flower beds
Both compost and mulch will protect your flower beds from low temperatures. Compost will also provide important nutrients to the soil, which your plants will greatly benefit from next spring.
The autumn season generates a lot of organic waste: make good use of it by adding it to your compost pile. Cover your compost bins with plastic to avoid them filling with water, as this would contribute to the appearance of microorganisms that could alter the composting process.
Preparing the garden for winter: protect your garden furniture
Wooden benches, tables, loungers and chairs all benefit from regular maintenance. Use protective oils to waterproof them and make them last longer. If you have metal garden furniture, make sure that the paint is in good condition to prevent the furniture from rusting with moisture.
Get your garden tools ready
Cold and humid winter days are perfect for carrying out DIY and maintenance jobs inside the house, where it’s nice and warm. Take this opportunity to tune up your tools: sharpen and lubricate your pruning shears to have them ready when you need them, change the broken or chipped handles of hand tools, check the mower and buy spare parts which you may need in the spring.
Use this time to clean and tidy up your shed before storing anything in there. Make sure you store boxes and other belongings making them easy to access according to when you might need them in the future. Always wash your seedling trays and transplanting pots with a bleach and water solution, in order to leave them ready for spring.
Feed the birds in winter
If winter is hard for us, imagine how challenging it is for birds to find food. You can put feeders and water bowls or dispensers not only in the garden, but also the porch, the terrace and even the balcony. If you place them close to the house windows, you will be able to enjoy watching the birds come and go, and you will learn about the different bird species in your area and their habits and behaviour.
You can buy seed mixtures rich in fats and oils, which will provide birds with maximum energy. Don’t forget to regularly add water to the water dispensers and bowls, since it is very likely that they will not be able to find it in liquid form during the coldest months.