We know you’re still relaxing into this long summer we’ve been blessed but preparing your garden for winter should start in the autumn, a long time before winter hits. Yes, you read that right. The autumn is the time to start getting your garden winter-ready, it’s not the time to hang up your wellies!
Winter does not have to be a cold, barren, colourless season. There are plenty of cold-hardy plants that will add a splash of colour to your garden, such as, coronilla valentina and helleborus niger, arbutus unedo and bergenia. Cheerful plants like these will help make your garden look more vibrant during the long wait for summer.
Aside from trying to preserve a splash of colour in your winter garden, preserving your plants for the coming spring/summer is obviously extremely important, so how do you go about getting your garden ready for the winter? And where should you start? It’s not as simple as pulling all of jumpers out of the back of the wardrobe that’s for certain!
It’s important to bear in mind, after all of the hard work you did over the summer, that the more work you do in the autumn, the easier coaxing your garden to life will be when spring finally rolls around. This means that all of your ‘mud’, sweat and tears won’t be wasted. Start by throwing away dead, old and unwanted plants. They look untidy but more crucially, dead or dying plants sometimes carry disease. Burying them in your compost or deep in your flowerbeds is a great way to make sure your old plants aren’t completely wasted. Just make sure that they are completely disease-free if you decide to do this. Adding compost to your beds in the autumn is a great idea as it gives your plants something to feed from during the cold winter months.
And what else do you need to do to ‘put your garden to bed’? As you go about tucking up the garden, bring in all of your young, vulnerable plants, such as dahlias and even woody shrubs such as lemon verbena.
Bring in those plants and then pot them up for a snuggly winter spent inside your home. Whilst you’re clearing out your garden, remove all of the weeds that could strangle the life out of your plants during the winter. Whilst you’re doing your final weeding session, apply a substantial covering of an organic compost to all of your beds as you go about planting all of your spring-flowering bulbs.
After that, rake up the fallen leaves from your lawn and borders and add them to the compost heap so that they can mulch down for next year. Raking the leaves off your lawn will help it to look neat and tidy over the winter and will make sure that it is in the best condition so that it looks good when the weather starts to get warmer. Keeping the leaves off your garden paths will also help to prevent any slips and falls.
Finally, protect your plants with horticultural fleeces to keep them safe for the warmer weather’s arrival in several months’ time. Lift off the fleeces during the day to let the sunlight get to your plants and so that you can check on your plants’ progress. Remember to replace the fleece before it gets dark to keep your plants safe and warm. Polytunnels can also be used to excellent effect for protecting and preserving your crops over the winter. First Tunnels’ polytunnels come in a huge range of sizes so that they are suitable for both commercial and domestic use.
Once you’ve finished arranging your garden, don’t forget to take a look at your garden furniture. Ideally your garden furniture should be undercover for the winter and it’ll look even better when you remove the covers in the spring if you clean, sand down and treat the furniture with a wood preservative before tucking the pieces away for the winter.
Once your garden and garden furniture have been attended to, the final factor to consider is how you can help to preserve and protect Britain’s incredible wildlife over the winter months. There are all sorts of ways to help British wildlife from installing a birdfeeder and keeping it regularly topped up with mealworms and fat balls, to brushing fallen leaves under shrubs so that insects have a place to hide allowing the birds to easily find them. You could also consider the hedgehogs, numbers of which are currently declining, by leaving out a dish of water and dog food. Cutting a small hole between your garden fences if possible will allow hedgehogs to search a large area for food. Very importantly, don’t forget to check your bonfire for any hibernating hedgehogs before setting fire to it.