With the coldest months of the year now upon us, many homeowners will abandon hope for their backyards and leave it be until the Spring rolls around. This is a shame, as it can make the garden not particularly pleasant to look at during this winter period. With a little bit of care and effort, you can put your garden in good shape for the winter months and even make it a nice place to spend time (provided you have some heat and shelter!).
Here are a few ways that you can get your garden ready for winter:
One of the most unsightly things that you see in a garden over winter is huge piles of debris and leaves on the lawn. This also means that you do not want to venture outside and find whatever might be hiding/living here! Instead, consider picking up all the fallen debris once the trees are bare. This will immediately make a huge difference and make the backyard look much more appealing. You should go over the lawn with a lawnmower, which you can find from places like SGS. It is also wise to go over the lawn with a rake from time to time to remove moss and allow it to breathe. You should aerate consolidated areas of the lawn with a fork or spiking machine. This will improve drainage allowing more air into the roots and ease compaction, this will lead to a healthier greener looking lawn.
Not all of your plants will be able to withstand the harsh winter conditions, so move any potted plants inside if possible and clear away the debris covering delicate plants to shield them from the cold. You can protect crops with shelters and protect other plants by laying down a few inches of compost and a layer of mulch. You should focus also on your bulb beds as frost can freeze and crack the soil, causing bulbs to rise to the surface. Evergreen mulch is a ideal pick for this. You should also remove weeds as and when you see them – this will make it a much less daunting task when it becomes warmer. Although some plants will struggle in winter, there are some that you can introduce to inject some much-needed colour and life into the space during winter. A few examples include snowdrops, heather, pansies, Japanese quince and cyclamen.
For indoor plants during the winter months (Yes they need extra care and attention too) Things you should do:
Mist plants- You should spray plants once a day but more ideally two or three times. Wipe plants – Give them a quick wipe down to allow the pores of the leaves to breathe. Put plants in light- As the winter days tend to be a lot shorter and light less protruding then its more crucial to place any potted plants in a prominent place in the light. Reduce watering – You should avoid overwatering at all costs as plants grow at a lot slower pace in winter, means plants will require less watering
Shrubs and Trees
Cut back wayward, dead or diseased branches and trim the hedge before the frost arrives. Be on the lookout for snow and frost throughout winter and knock off any snow on leaves and branches to stop any damage from occurring. Particularly evergreens such as dwarf Alberta Spruce are prone to winter burn. Protect young trees by putting plastic tree guards around the bottom of their trunks to prevent damage from rabbits and mice gnawing.
Paving & Patios
Any paths, paving or patios should be thoroughly cleaned before the frost arrives. Remove any debris and give these surfaces a clean with a stiff brush or with a pressure washer if you have one. This should make them less slippery during the colder months so that you can still walk on them with confidence. The root cause of most patio related problems is rainfall. The best way to protect against damage is to cover it with an protective sheet of fabric known as an awning. You can also reduce frost damage with sealers and fill existing cracks to prevent them getting worse.
Borders and Shed
The wind, rain and freezing conditions can take their toll on perimeter fences and gates. This can bring down the overall tone of the entire garden, so spend some time cleaning these areas and then treating wood with wood preserver to prevent rot and decay. The shed will require the same treatment, but you should also check the roofing felt and replace this if needed to stop the timber from rotting away.
If you have a pond or water feature, you may want to consider covering it with a net or sheet to prevent leaves falling in (a sheet can also trap heat and reduce the chance of it freezing over. If you have fish, you will want to prevent the surface from freezing – you can do this by being vigilant and by using a ball to float on the surface. Feed fish appropriately as the water temperature will drop you should feed fish less as their metabolism slows down. Remove and dying plant foliage from the pond as it will decay and pollute the water.
It is a wise idea to move any outdoor furniture into the shed to protect it from the elements (even cast aluminium can suffer). If there does happen to be a nice, dry and crisp winter day where you want to sit outside, you will be able to do so without having to wash and clean the furniture first. Alternatively, set up a gazebo and you will have a pleasant place outdoors where you can relax and/or socialise.
The above steps will prepare your garden for the harsh conditions of winter so that it is in good health once the warmer months return. Importantly, it can also make the garden look much nicer during winter so that you can enjoy being outside on a pleasant winter day. You could even take this further by preparing the garden for Christmas with festive lights and decorations.