Shorter days and cold mornings are here. But that doesn’t mean you can neglect your garden for the next three months. Garden work is year-round after all. And while the volume of tasks is less when the weather is wet and chilly, preparing your garden for winter is essential to keep it thriving. So, here’s a little to-do list with winter gardening tips to help you get it ready for spring.
1. Give your lawn some TLC.
The best time to prepare and take care of your lawn is in autumn. Try to do the following in your garden before the temperature drops:
- Fertilise. Applying fertilisers to your lawn months before the colder months will help it stay healthy. You might want to check the soil pH, too, and keep it at the optimum 6.5 level.
- Aerate. Heavy rains can make your soil compact and less breathable for your lawn. Loosen it up manually with a pitchfork or by walking around it while wearing shoes with spiked soles. For bigger gardens, hiring a lawn aerator is more convenient. Aerating your soil is an excellent technique for improving drainage and ensuring that winter rains reach the plant roots.
- Mow. Keep your grass blades a little long. Mowing your lawn a bit higher will protect it from frost and keep it thriving despite days of limited sunlight.
2. Pamper your vegetable garden.
If you have vegetable garden beds, make sure to protect them from the cold weather. Tidy them up and remove the weeds first. Next, till the soil and spread your choice of fertiliser like organic compost. Finally, cover the beds with a thick layer of mulch such as pebbles or leaf litter. Aside from protecting your vegetable garden, mulch helps lessen the odour from compost, controls soil temperature, retains moisture and suppresses weeds from sprouting.
A cubic metre of mulch is enough to cover 20 square metres of garden space, with the ideal depth of 50mm. You can order mulch in bulk from your landscape supplier to save on cost or buy it by the bag if you have a small garden.
3. Rake, weed and prune.
When preparing your garden for winter, clear your walk paths and decks from fallen leaves. The cold weather can easily wet and mat down these leaves, creating a slippery and dangerous surface. Use a rake to collect them then add these leaves to your compost pile if you have one. Doing this step can also allow rain to penetrate the soil and protect any wooden structures in your garden from rotting. And while you’re at it, remove the weeds, too, before they have a chance to seed. It’s easier to pull them out around this time when the soil is damp and soft.
Pruning plants is also crucial when preparing your garden for winter, especially your rose shrubs. This task will encourage new shoots to sprout in time for spring. Just be careful when pruning as some plants may reshoot too soon and the frost might destroy them. In general, it’s best to prune summer and autumn plants in late winter or early spring. Spring trees and shrubs, on the other hand, are ready for pruning after they stop flowering. You can also ask your garden centre for advice.
4. Protect your plants from frost.
Move your potted tropical and subtropical plants indoors to keep it protected from the frosty weather. Also, remember not to water them too often. If your home has a veranda, this place can serve as a haven for your plants, too. Shield the rest of your garden from frost using a cloth or plastic sheet draped on a solid frame. Make sure you can remove the cover easily every morning, so your plants can get that much-needed sunlight.
5. Plant winter flowers and deciduous trees.
Winter may be time for dull, grey skies. But planting colourful winter flowers will keep your garden bright and sunny despite the bleak weather. Delightful options include violas, pansies, camellias, cyclamens and hellebores. If you have space in your garden, planting deciduous trees in winter is also a good idea. These trees shed their leaves and stay dormant until spring. Fruit trees like figs, apples, peaches, plums and cherries are all perfect. You can also try ornamental deciduous trees such as forest pansy and Bechtel crabapple.
6. Clean and dry your tools.
After all that work, it’s finally time to put all your gardening tools back into the shed. However, before doing that, find the time to give them a spring clean to make sure they’re in tip-top shape in time for, well, spring! Sharpen your secateurs and garden shears. Wash the pitchfork, rake and shovel then dry them thoroughly to avoid rusting. Give your mower a good clean, too, by brushing off grass trimmings from underneath. When done, store them somewhere safe then start planning your garden projects for the next season, while staying warm and cosy indoors.