Another winter is now just a matter of weeks away, and it’s time to start making preparations in your garden. The average winter can be tough on a household garden — leaving it looking dishevelled and lifeless by the time spring arrives. But if you start planning now, and take the necessary measures, your garden won’t just look good now, it will look tidy and presentable throughout the colder months of the year.
A lot of growth in your garden can cease growing as early as mid October. So when the time is right, make sure you implement the following steps.
Remove dead vegetation
Removing dead vegetation isn’t just a matter of cosmetics — it’s about saving your living plants from a premature death. A lot of old and dead plants harbour pests, funguses and disease. They can lie dormant throughout winter, and lull you into a false sense of security. But when spring arrives, they come to life, and start affecting healthy vegetation such as flowers, shrubs and grass.
Start by removing any litter, which is something you should continue doing throughout winter. Two or three times a week, rake away dead leaves, twigs, plants and general vegetation. You can either dispose of it, or give your soil some added nutrients by burying your garden waste.
Search for weeds
Even the best kept gardens suffer from weeds. While you might be worried about tackling weeds around your plants and shrubs during the summer, you can really get stuck in when the cold weather arrives. Pull your weeds out by hand, ensuring you have all of the roots. To ensure they don’t start growing again, throw them away.
Turn over your soil
Once the majority of vegetation has stopped growing, you can start preparing your soil for spring. Use compost, vegetation and any supplements you feel are necessary to breathe new life into your soil for the next season of growth. Turn your soil over with a hoe and spade now, and it will be in peak condition when you start planting again next year.
Tend to your perennial plants
The late autumn is a great time to prune your perennial plants, as many of them will find nourishment throughout the winter. So when spring arrives, they’ll have a great head start in terms of health and growth. This is also the time to move any perennials you might have. If you’re moving bulbs, start by digging at least four inches away from them to avoid damage.
Clean and sharpen garden tools
Once you’re done for the year, it’s always a good idea to clean and sharpen your tools before storing them in a dry place. Wash them with hot, soapy water, and remove corrosion with steel wool or sandpaper. You can sharpen forks, shovels and other garden tools with a mill file or a whetstone. Store your tools somewhere dry, but don’t wrap them up, as this can lead to mould forming over the winter.
Clean and store garden furniture
If you leave your furniture out over the winter, the job of cleaning it will be much harder next year. Not just that, you’re leaving it susceptible to the elements, which could lead to permanent damage. Take the time at the end of autumn to deep clean all of your tables, chairs, loungers and accessories. This is a great time to get out your handheld steam cleaner, as you can dislodge dead insects, dirt and grime by blasting specific areas with a concentrated jet of steam. No chemicals required!
Keep a compost heap going
The more nutrients you give your soil and lawn over the winter, the healthier it will be when the warmer weather arrives. Keep a compost/mulch heap going throughout the winter months, and use it to fertilise your soil once a week. If you have a lawn, rake it, and aerate it by poking a few holes with a fork. Use the most rotted compost on your lawn for the best results.
Act now, and your garden will look presentable throughout the winter — and fantastic when it’s time to start planting again.