Though it’s a difficult one to admit, winter is well and truly on its way. The UK has already seen it’s fair share of adverse weather in the past couple of weeks, and sadly that doesn’t look like it is going to change anytime soon. However, there is no need to panic, as early autumn is the perfect time to begin preparing your garden for the winter months.
Many people have the tendency to just forget about gardening for the winter months – after all there isn’t much to do is there? Perhaps surprisingly, that is not actually the case, there is plenty to be done in autumn and winter even if it is just to prepare for the next spring ahead.
Before winter arrives and wreaks its usual havoc on your garden you should make sure you’re prepared. This will likely include things such as lawn care, prepping your flower beds, mending structures and protecting any precious plants. Don’t fret, we have you covered with our handy guide to preparing your garden for winter.
General Clean Up
The first step in preparing your garden for any change, seasonal or otherwise, is to do a general tidy up. This can involve anything you like, but generally it is good to make sure any and all debris is removed – and added to your compost pile along with any leaves which have begun to fall. If you feel your garden has started to overgrow this summer, now is a good time to cut it back and split up some flowers, as well as dig up ones you are not so fond of – giving you a blank canvas for next year.
Once you are well and truly ready to admit the loss of summer and warm evenings you should also look to give your garden furniture a good clean, following manufacturer’s instructions. Then, cover it up or put it away in a garage or shed ready to be used again next year. Cleaning your garden furniture before storing it is the best way to ensure its longevity and you will thank yourself come springtime.
Depending on when you decide to do your clean up, you may or may not have a vast amount of fallen leaves. These should be raked periodically to avoid build up and any nasty accidents. You can add them to your compost pile.
Its traditional to take care of your lawn in September – revitalizing it after a dry summer. In typical UK fashion, the last few weeks have been anything but dry however this is still a task worth undertaking to ensure you grass is in peak condition come next spring. The first step is to tackle any moss by spreading a moss killer. After the moss killer has done its job within two weeks, rake it away using a lawn rake. This will also help remove any other debris. Removing debris is key to preventing weeds and turf disease in the future so make sure to remove it all properly.
Next, improve the drainage in areas which get a lot of footfall. Simply push a garden fork into the ground to make air channels – you can fill these with a sand dressing to still allow water in. To improve efficiency on large lawns, an aerator can help speed up the process.
Finally, use an autumn lawn fertiliser to perk up tired lawns. Make sure not to use a spring one as it is not developed for winter use and may cause frost damage.
Preparing Soil for Spring
Many people will prepare their new soil in spring, however by doing it in autumn it means the new additions to the soil will have started breaking down, enriching the soil and becoming biologically active. So, begin to add in things such as compost, manure and mulch before turning and digging the soil to avoid having to do the job when spring arrives, and you have other things on your mind. If you are concerned about the adverse winter weather affecting your new soil – simply cover with a sheet of plastic and remove it once spring transpires.
Repair Broken Structures
Autumn is a good time to repair any broken structures before they have chance to become irreparably damaged in the winter weather. For many it may seem counterproductive to do this however over winter, small damages can become big problems. So, if you have any small issues with your shed, fence or greenhouse make sure to make those repairs now.
Or, where sheds and greenhouses are concerned – if they are beyond repair it is best to get rid of them prior to winter. Don’t let them become even more damaged – with potential to damage other items in the garden – over winter.
This is also a good time to clean and sharpen any gardening tools, hang them up and put them away ready to be used fresh and new in the springtime. You will thank yourself later.
Divide Late Blooming Bulbs
You may think your bulbs died a long time ago however some later flowering bulbs such as lilies will have only died 3-4 weeks before autumn. Therefore, now is the perfect time to consider whether you want to divide these up. Did you feel your garden was a little overcrowded this year? Do you want some specific plants in another location? Now is the time to divide plants up and replant them in a more appropriate location.
In addition, if you did this with your spring bulbs, you should now be replanting them ready to flower in the spring.
One of the most obvious tasks for the garden pre-winter, is to protect any at-risk plants from weather damage. Make sure to wrap up any pots containing shrubs as these have roots which can become damaged in the cold. You can wrap them in bubble wrap for a good layer of protection and even add hessian if you’re concerned about the appearance.
Any new plants or tender plants should also be covered with fleece or mesh. If you are an avid gardener, you will likely know from years gone by which plants need to be covered during the winter.
Over winter it is incredibly important to look after the wildlife. Birds are much more likely to rely on you for food in the cold weather so make sure to leave out feeders and water baths – making sure they don’t ice over. The national trust recommend breaking up any ice as it forms to ensure birds can still drink from it.
Keep an eye out and refill the food as necessary.
There you have it, preparing your garden for winter may seem like a big job however you will be grateful when spring arrives and your garden is prepped and ready to look bright and colourful once more.