Winter can be a rough time for gardens (and gardeners) but implementing a few winter gardening guidelines will ensure that your plants will survive until the following spring and flourish in the summer.
Firstly it is important for you to dig over the soil in the winter. You can use a fork as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged. This loosens the soil allowing you to add fertilizer and easily remove any weeds. The process helps to improve the structure of the soil over the winter months, leaving it ready to produce beautiful plants and delicious vegetables the following year.
Shrubs should be pruned during the winter time. Shrubs can be shaped and pruned quickly and easily. First remove the dead flower heads, then prune back any branches that look like they have signs of disease. Long branches should be cut back so that they only have around 1/3 of their length remaining.
Lawns need a little special care before winter sets in. You should always make sure that there is nothing left on the lawn through the winter – toys, gardening tools etc. It is also a good idea to rake up any dead leaves or other debris before the winter so that your lawn won’t have dead patches the following spring. Check for thatch (aka dying grass) and moss and remove it. Mow your lawn less frequently as winter approaches so that it isn’t left too short when the frost arrives. It’s also a good idea to weed and feed the lawn one last time before the winter.
Clean any moss, weeds and lichen from the garden path with a good stiff brush – this will really help to enhance the overall appearance of your garden and prevent it from becoming too slippery when it is cold and wet.
Bring in any container plants which may need to be protected from the frost before the first frost of winter sets in. If you don’t have the space in your house then how about the conservatory, the greenhouse, the garage, the potting shed – anywhere to protect them from the harsh winter frosts.
Don’t forget about the birds and the wildlife during the winter too – winter is a difficult time for plants, birds and wildlife. Many natural water resources will freeze over during the harshest winter so remember to provide a water feature, pond or birdbath which will remain free of ice. Pop a floating ball onto the surface of the water and if it freezes remove the ball to create a small, ice-free watering hole.
If you are interested in growing vegetables year round then here’s a video on how to build a cold frame to help you do so.
Winter is probably the quietest time of year for gardeners – nothing much grows and it is really a case of keeping the garden clean and tidy and protecting any plants which need to be protected. A properly prepared garden will emerge from the harshest of winters ready and able to be fresh and green during the following spring and summer. The work that you do before the winter sets in will certainly reap rewards in just a few months.