Many of us tend to give our gardens a final check over and mow in October, before leaving them to fend for themselves over the winter months. However, spending a bit longer preparing your garden and outdoor space for the winter season can help it to look its best when spring comes around.
Clever planting and care will ensure that your garden looks great all year round and leaves you with less work to do when spring does finally show up again. Your garden and outdoor space go through quite a lot of change over the winter, so it is essential that you properly maintain it to keep it looking its best, no matter the time of year.
Maintain Garden Borders
Looking after your borders means that they will replenish and grow again once the winter is over, but if you leave them to fend for themselves, you risk them dying off in the frost, never to return again. Cut back any herbaceous perennials within your borders and cut them close to the ground as they begin to die down. It may also be worth tidying up your borders by removing dead leaves, weeds and foliage so that it doesn’t turn to mush. Clip your lawn edges and clear the stems from perennials, but be sure to save anything which has attractive seed heads – these always look magical when it is a little frosty!
Pay Attention To Trees And Shrubs
Prune back any wayward branches on your shrubs in order to improve the overall shape and give hedges a final trim before the first frost hits. Be sure to remove diseased, dead and damaged branches, particularly on your trees, to prevent broken stems rubbing together and creating damage. In order to add some winter interest to your garden, be sure to look for shrubs and trees which have colourful bark. Chalk-white paper birch and burgundy Tibetan cherry make for great additions for a bit of winter colour.
Repair Garden Structures
Once you have taken care of your borders and trees, it’s time to take care of your garden structures and furniture and carry out maintenance work which may be needed on your greenhouse, fencing or summerhouse. You need to keep an eye out for pest, decaying timber and rot on your wooden structures and outdoor cane furniture throughout the year and not just through the winter months.
If you have any pots which are planted with tender or delicate plant species, such as palms, Cannas and Agapanthus, into a conservatory or greenhouse for protection in the winter. You might want to wrap horticultural fleece around the trunk of any trees which are planted in the ground and spread a thick covering of bark or mulch around the base to protect from the frost.
Small trees, roses and shrubs can be lifted out by the bare-root and then replanted before mid-March. Other plants, such as conifers and evergreens, need rootballing, but this should be done using detailed instructions and advice.
Care For Your Garden’s Wildlife
It is important to care for your garden’s wildlife during the winter, as many small animals and birds need all of the help they can get. Food becomes less available and many of their water sources for drinking and bathing freeze over. Leave out feeders, fat balls and water baths for birds and be sure to break the ice on ponds or water features if they freeze over so that they can drink.
If you’re planning on having garden fires during the winter, always check and make sure hibernating creatures haven’t nestled in there. A healthy garden also needs insects to pollenate plants and enrich the soil, so why not make a bug hotel for your garden? It’s a great thing to do with children and encourage them to leave the house during the winter.
Protect Outside Taps
Frozen outside taps are the cause of many problems during the winter and are prone to leaks, cracks and damp. If you have an outdoor tap and it is possible to isolate using a stop tap, then turn it off and drain. This will then prevent pipes from bursting or your tap becoming damaged over the winter. If you are unable to isolate it, insulate it instead and cover with a tap cover.