Whether your garden is more of a hobby or simply a space to relax in the warmer months, it’s important to keep it in good shape all year round to avoid it becoming overgrown. As the winter draws in, you don’t want to be pruning, cleaning or planting when the weather gets bitterly cold and wet; so that’s why it’s important to prepare for the harsher climates, before they can do damage. Do this sooner rather than later in order to protect the grass, soil, plants and any furniture you have. Here are some easy steps you can take to be fully prepared.
The first thing you will notice if your garden is left too long without maintenance is how messy it becomes. Weeds can grow out of control; plants will go limp and shrivelled as well as the grass becoming very unhealthy.
To prevent this from happening, you need to do a proper tidy up. Begin by digging up any seasonal flowers or plants that have seen better days. Pull up any weeds as well, as these will overthrow your garden if left to grow.
A common misconception for those having a clean-up is that you must get rid of all the leaves. Of course, if the piles of leaves are beginning to grow tall then you should dispose of the excess. However, it is beneficial to have some as a protective layer over soil and plants you wish to keep sheltered. Use a rake to distribute them evenly.
Instead of simply throwing away the unwanted foliage, start filling a compost bin. This will break down the waste into compost which is rich in nutrients and can be used next season.
Now it’s time to start trimming the branches on trees and shrubs, particularly if they are near to your home or electrical wires. The winter is a great time to trim back the branches on trees and shrubs as they are a great deal easier to cut and remove without the thick foliage of leaves. Additionally, if branches are not cut back, ice or snowfall can make them heavy, increasing the chances of them snapping, which in turn can lead to substantial damage.
Once your garden is looking tidier, scratch the surface of the grass with a rake before putting down some fertiliser so that it stays healthy looking and doesn’t develop those sorry looking dead patches. There’s no time like the present to get your lawnmower serviced too, as once the weather improves that grass will definitely need a cut.
The winter is notorious for its blustery winds, and the last thing you wish to deal with is a fallen fence, wall or trellis. Inspect these to ensure they are stable, secure and undamaged. If they have a little wobble, you may need to dig around the posts and pack the soil in tighter. As well as this, you may want to line the edges with large stones or secure posts to sturdier objects with strong twine.
In order to prevent any damage to furniture, ponds or fixtures it is vital that you protect them from the elements. Before storing anything away or covering it up, make sure you thoroughly clean it first. Where possible, it is always best to clean items with a wire brush to avoid using water which promotes the growth of rust. A layer of sealant for your cast iron items is highly recommended too, or gloss for wooden pieces.
For any furniture that can be put away, make sure that it is stored somewhere dry and protected from the elements. Anything that needs to be left outside should be covered with a tough plastic cover and securely fastened using string or heavy stones.
If you have a pond with fish, purchase a net to prevent leaves from falling in and polluting the water. Don’t forget to monitor the temperature of the water so that it doesn’t freeze over. If freezing temperatures are expected, add something that will float to the water, like a tennis ball or football. This will prevent the water from totally freezing over and allow air holes if a top layer of ice is produced.
Birdlife and other wildlife can suffer from a lack of food during these months if their primary source is from plant seed, berries or fruit. Fill your bird feeder with nuts and seeds to keep them nourished during this period.
By following these steps, your garden will be well prepared to endure the extreme weather through to the spring. If you have any other tips we’ve missed, why not let us know in the comments section?
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