January 26, 2024
You might think that once you put your garden to bed for winter, you can close the door and forget about it. To an extent, you can, but you can also do lots to keep your garden in the best condition throughout the colder months and protect your plants from extreme weather conditions. In this article, we’re pulling out all the essential winter gardening jobs to boost your garden’s health and appearance, such as pruning perennials and protecting your plants from frost.
To get you started, here are our top 11 winter gardening tips.
It can be a tricky task to trim back trees when they’re full of leaves. Whilst the branches are bare, now’s the time to cut back any dead, damaged or out-of-control branches. This is also your chance to dictate how you want your tree or hedges to grow by cutting away any low or odd-angled branches heading in the wrong direction. By removing these, it will focus its energy on the remaining branches. Remember to clear up any debris to keep your lawn clear, and compost or recycle waste through your green waste bin.
Leaves will naturally fall as plants hibernate for winter, but they can pile up during strong winds, leaving a thick layer which sunlight will struggle to get through; a real probelm for lawns. Furthermore, if it rains, leaves on the ground will often become slippery, making paths dangerous if not swept away. On a dry (and non-windy) day, gently rake up your leaves and pop them in your compost. You could also scatter them on flowerbeds; as they decompose, they’ll provide additional nutrients to the soil. Our blog on fallen leaves might give you a little more insight.
Despite the chilly conditions, weeds, especially perennial weeds, are persistent in their mission to take over your garden! Whilst flowerbeds are slimmed back, it’s easier to spot unwanted weeds and dig them out. Remember to remove them from the roots to prevent them from returning, and use a weed killer to be sure. Don’t forget prime weed spots, such as between paving slabs.
Perennials can often survive the winter, and many gardeners leave their perennials as cover for wildlife. However, pruning your perennials will give them a better start when they re-bloom in the Spring. Use shears or secateurs to cut as close to the dormant part of the plant as possible, avoiding any new shoots. Remove debris from around the base of the plant and add a layer of mulch or bark for extra protection.
Plants in flowerbeds have anchored themselves securely into the soil, meaning the roots are strong enough to source essential water and nutrients to keep them fuelled until spring. Plants in pots, however, only have a limited amount of space. Depending on the type of pot, they can also struggle to maintain a consistent temperature, damaging their roots and growth. To protect your potted flowers, move them inside, keep them covered or bury them in the soil. You can also lift them off the ground, especially if the floor is frozen, and add a layer of bark or mulch to keep them warm.
Your grass won’t grow much during winter, so you don’t need to worry about staying on top of your mowing. In fact, it’s better to keep your grass a little longer; if it’s too short, it can become brittle due to frost. But now is an excellent time to repair and neaten your lawn edges. Remove any fallen garden debris blocking sunlight from reaching your turf and monitor its general condition. Look for signs of lawn diseases or waterlogging due to winter downpours and poor drainage.
Although a smooth white blanket looks beautiful, heavy snowfall can harm your lawn and flowers. Remove snow from delicate flowers or leaves, and shovel large amounts off your lawn. Avoid moving the snow into a pile, as this can discolour the lawn underneath – be mindful of snowmen, too; they’re great fun, but if left too long, they can damage your turf underneath. As the snow melts, watch your lawn for any signs of water pooling or lawn fungus.
Winter is the perfect opportunity to prep and plan your spring/summer garden: what plants would you like to seed? Are you looking to create individual flowerbeds with sleepers? Do you want to reshape or update your lawn with new turf? Is this the year you introduce a vegetable patch or wildflower garden? Whilst your plants are dormant, now’s the time to rejig your garden design and prepare space for planting new bulbs.
There’s always a chance that winter brings bad weather, such as bitterly cold winds, intense storms, horrid downpours and thick snow. This can cause a lot of damage to your existing garden structures. On a clear, dry day, get outside to check your sheds, arches and garden furniture. Make any necessary repairs and cover them the best you can to protect them.
Whilst your garden is resting, this is a great chance to assess your gardening tools. Perhaps they need a good cleanup to ensure they’re in the best condition for the spring. Or invest in the right gardening tools such as a lawnmower, rake, fork, spade, secateurs, and wheelbarrow. Take time to organise your shed and have everything ready when the weather warms up.
As the ground freezes over, temperatures plummet, and flowers halt their bloom, wildlife will struggle to source food, water and shelter during this time. Be mindful of the creatures in your garden and do what you can to help them survive the season: keep bird baths topped up, scatter bird feed or create warm bug hotels and hedgehog homes for them to stay snug.
Don’t get caught out and prepare your plants for chilly conditions:
If you need some support or have any questions about winter garden care and the best ways to care for your winter garden and lawn, get in touch with the GDT.