Winter is slowly approaching, and with that it’s time to consider preparing your garden so it can survive the cold weather as best as it can. We’ve come up with our top tips on preparing your garden for the Winter so you don’t have as much work to do in the Spring:
1. Leaves and Paving
Leaves fall from the trees right up until the last few seconds of Autumn, so make sure your garden is clear of them before Winter arrives. In doing this, it prevents the leaves from becoming infested with mildew and algae, which can become slippery. Pay attention to your paths and paving, as this type of mould growth could potentially make them lethal to step on.
Leaves are also perfect for recycling into a soil conditioner. This is known as leaf mold, which can be created by raking moist leaves into a pile and waiting for them to decompose. To avoid it looking messy, you can fence the pile in with chicken wire or something not too dissimilar. However, make sure that air can still circulate as oxygen will help to increase the rate of decomposition. Leaf mold helps to improve soil’s intake of moisture and make it available to the plants for a longer period of time. As the leaves are still decomposing, they increase the fertility of the soil.
2. Tidy Borders
Cut back any perennials as they begin to dwindle and clear your borders of any dead leaves, foliage and weeds. To prevent any of the weeds growing back, try using a preventative weed killer than will help to keep your garden under control during the Winter months.
In place of any plants that you’ve had to pull up, try replacing them with spring bulbs such as: daffodils, snowdrops, irises, and so on. Many spring-flowering bulbs prefer sunny areas with good drainage, and usually need to be buried around 4-6 inches below soil level.
3. Look After the Wildlife
During the Winter, many animals struggle to find food sources, so providing a small helping hand to feed them can do wonders. Birds can find it difficult to find natural foods, such as berries and insects. To give them an extra source of food during the cold weather, place bird feeders around your garden.
Providing clean water in a shallow bowl will encourage hedgehogs to visit your garden. Food is also scarce for a variety of other animals during the Winter months, so try leaving meat scraps out for foxes or badgers, or nuts or apples for squirrels.
4. Keep an Eye on Ponds/ Water Features
If you find your garden pond has frozen over, try attempting to make a hole in the ice. Many fish or frogs hibernate at the bottom and can be killed by toxic gases that build up in the water. Don’t try making a hole in the ice by breaking it or tipping boiling water onto it, as this can harm the wildlife that are living in it. To make a hole in the ice, fill a pan with hot water and carefully place it on the surface until a hole has melted into the ice.
5. Maintain the Lawn
To keep your lawn looking presentable over the Winter months, go over it with a rake to remove old grass clippings and moss. If your garden has a large amount of moss, then this could be indicating that there is a drainage issue somewhere. To improve drainage and aeration, prod deep holes into the lawn using your garden rake or a pair of prongs.
6. Use Mulch or Cover Crops
One of the main problems with plants over the Winter is not the cold weather, but the frost that melts and frosts over again. Placing mulch over some of your plants can protect them and provide more nutrients to the soil, as it decomposes over the Winter months.
Planting cover crops will also help to prevent erosion and provide more nutrients to the soil. The most widely used group of cover crops are legumes, which convert nitrogen into a form that plants can then use.