We don’t typically think about gardening during the winter months, and rightly so; there’s really not much to do in the garden over the colder months of the year. What is often neglected, however, is preparation for the winter. You may not need to do much in the garden during winter but getting it ready for the cold can make life a lot easier for the following summer.
How Do I Get Winter Ready?
See below the top tips for getting your garden ready for the coming winter months.
Clean Your Paving Stones
When winter rolls around, you’re probably going to have to deal with wet surfaces around your garden quite a bit. Unfortunately, wet paving stones (and concrete and other similar surfaces) have a nasty habit of getting slippery from those unsightly green growths they develop over time.
Giving your patios and pavements one last thorough pressure wash before the cold rolls in should see you through the winter without having to worry about slipping on algae.
Clear Away Diseased Plants
Many species of plants will die off over the winter, and that’s fine. This is the natural life cycle in many cases, and you are fine to leave these plants to rot away in peace. There are situations where this is not the case, however, such as when a plant has picked up a disease, pest, or fungus.
The signs of problems will vary greatly from plant to plant, so you’ll need to keep yourself informed about the plants in your garden and the sorts of problems they are likely to. If you notice a problem, you’ll want to get rid of those plants or crops before the cold puts an end to gardening season.
Prune Your Perennials
Another thing to get in before the cold is to upkeep your perennial plants. The plants that form the backbone of any well-kept garden, thanks to the fact that they come back in the spring, nevertheless still need some TLC.
If some of your perennials are getting a little unruly during the autumn months, tidying things up and getting them ready for next spring can greatly reduce the amount of work you’ll have to do when you get back to it the following year.
Replenish Your Mulch
Mulching is a great way to protect your soil and ensure the long-term health of your plants, but it’s not just a summer activity. Adding a thick layer of mulch to your soil will help to regulate temperatures, moisture, and cushion the transition to winter. It also acts as a barrier, or buffer, against hard frosts that can damage plants and crops.
And, as an added bonus, mulch infuses your soil with fresh organic material as it breaks down, meaning it doesn’t need cleaning up.
Cut Back Branches
Pruning hedges and trees are the kind of jobs that are never-ending, but the onset of winter presents a great opportunity to get on top of things before the return of warmer times. Taking care of errant branches that hang too low or stick out too far during autumn will not only mean you’re getting off to a good start for following spring, it also means you won’t need to worry about walking into those branches during the winter months. And, once the leaves have started to fall from things like hedges and bushes, it is often much easier to determine which areas need your attention the most.
Clear Away Debris
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking “what’s the point” when it comes to clearing away debris, especially as the leaves are falling around you. Now, we’re not suggesting you should make it a daily habit to rake your lawn and sweep your paths during autumn, but it’s important to make sure that your garden is clear by the time winter sets in.
This is because all those leaves will begin to rot, causing slimy, slippery patches and generally just looking unsightly. This also applies to other forms of garden debris, such as mouldy netting or broken pots. If you grow vegetables in your garden, be sure to get rid of any dead veggies.
Clean And Tidy Away Pots
There’s no secret tip here, it’s just common sense. If you’ve got pots (that don’t have perennials in them), now’s the time to clear them out and store them safely. They’ll only moulder if you leave them out through the winter, full of soil, and even if you empty them, they can still be a hazard. You could end up tripping over them or breaking them.
For pots that have perennials planted in them, it’s fine to leave them be. They won’t be going anywhere. But for the rest, get those pots emptied, cleaned, and stored safely. You’ll thank yourself next spring.
Another obvious tip is to get rid of any weeds in your garden. Of course, this is one thing you will be doing on occasion throughout most of the year, but you shouldn’t pack away the weeding gloves too early.
Making sure your garden is weed-free before winter rolls in doesn’t just make it look better, it prevents weeds in the summer. Many common garden weeds die off over the winter, leaving their seeds in the soil to grow the following summer. By removing these weeds while they are still alive (before winter) you prevent them from leaving those seeds.
Clean Up Your Tools
Your tools must deal with moisture and the general rigours of repeated impact and scraping. If you don’t look after them, they will soon start to rust. This isn’t as big a problem through spring and winter when the tools are constantly in use, but those long, cold months in the garden shed will give the corrosion a chance to set in.
Ultimately, most of the things you can do to prepare your garden for winter are more of a means of saving you time or making life a little easier for you come spring and summer. You don’t need to do them, but you’ll be thankful you did. Others, like removing weeds and diseased plants, should be considered essential, as not doing them has the potential to damage your garden.
Aaron Donovan is the owner of AD Services, a building contractor company in Ireland. They specialise in house extensions, loft conversions and new builds. As a contractor, Aaron knows the importance of having a healthy garden as it help compliment the design and look of a house.