If homeowners winterise their homes and boat owners winterise their boats, shouldn’t we garden lovers be able to do the same for our favourite outdoor spaces?
For those not in the know, winterising a garden means maintaining it so that plants don’t die and, hopefully, you get to enjoy more colourful flowers come spring time.
Removing dead foliage and other debris from your garden doesn’t just ensure a cleaner appearance; it can also stop pests and diseases hibernating in plant debris.
homify hint: Compost (made from decomposed, organic materials) adds nutrients to soil and improves its structure; mulch (which can be organic or inorganic materials that have not yet decomposed) limits weed growth, stops erosion, and preserves soil moisture.
Continue pulling out weeds and other unwanted plants. However, double check that you toss those invasive plants, particularly the seed heads, not onto your usual compost pile, but into a covered garbage container.
The best time to divide your plants is about six weeks before the ground freezes. Look out for plant clumps not flowering as well as you’d hope them to and/or ones featuring bare spots in the centre.
Not all buds will survive freezes and those are the ones you are going to rescue. First, you’re going to dry them out on newspaper for a few weeks. Then, move them to a container where they’ll be covered with one of the following: sand, sawdust, perlite, or vermiculite. Plant them as soon as they’re ready for replanting and the weather permits it.
For the bulbs you leave out in the garden, cover them with an extra mulch layer for predicted freezings.
If possible, add a thick layer of mulch to your garden’s late-season plants only after the ground has started freezing. Cold or frozen, that ground will be kept at a consistent temperature until spring. The mulch will also help to prevent the soil’s freeze/thaw cycles.
Spot-check around late January to see if your mulch needs a top-up due to the elements.
If it’s a dry autumn, deep soaks can make a big difference. Broadleaf evergreens (like hollies) and conifers (like yews) are at risk of winter burn as their plants release moisture all year round. Keep a close eye on broadleaf types in your garden facing south/southwest in the afternoon sun and, as required, water them additionally.
Remember that the bark of recently planted young trees, especially ones bearing fruit, is easily damaged by fluctuating day/night temperatures. Fortunately, you can opt for tree-wrap tape and plastic spiral tree protectors.
Once you’ve divided and replanted, add about 7 – 10 cm of compost to the beds. The winter rains will conveniently help flush those nutrients into the soil.
Why not keep those fingers green and grow some bulbs indoors, like amaryllis or paperwhite narcissus? Or cut down a few budded branches of forsythia and witch hazel and add their blooms to your interior scheme.
A bit of colourful cheer can do your garden, and your mood, some good after this year. Pluck or purchase evergreen boughs and berries and DIY some wreaths or garlands for fences, trees, and garden furniture. And don’t forget about those twinkling string lights for a festive ambience.
If you simply can’t wait to start on that new garden bed you’ve been planning, we’ve got great news: you don’t have to! Cover the area with a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard, then pile on varying layers of organic material like leaves, compost, straw, etc. Once spring starts, the dead grass and weeds under the pile will have made a lovely space for your new garden bed.
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