12 Nov Preparing your garden for winter
Now that the temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter, it’s time to start preparing your garden for winter. Here are our top gardening jobs for November.
Keep paths and patios debris free
It’s tedious but essential. Prevent the growth of moss and algae and keep hard areas slip free by sweeping away fallen leaves and debris. Don’t forget to do the driveway as well as patios, decks and paths.
Leaves tend to accumulate in corners which is fine while they’re freshly fallen and crunchy, but once they go soggy they look ugly and start rotting. They’ll be a nasty congealed mess by spring time and they will certainly ruin the clean sharp lines of a contemporary garden. Plus, they can impede drainage so your paths will stay wet and that’s not great when they freeze over!
Put furniture and toys away – it helps to protect them from frost damage so they’re in fine fettle when you want to use them next year. (I’ve noticed too, my 4yr old gets bored with toys he sees every day, if we put them out of sight for a few weeks, he’ll welcome them back as though they’re new. So “hiding” his garden toys might help him enjoy them all the more next spring)
If you won’t be using your garden furniture overwinter, it’s best stored away somewhere dry. If you have cushions etc, store them somewhere where wildlife won’t try to nest in them.
Tidy and feed the lawn
You might be surprised to hear that your lawn keeps growing in winter. Fortunately for anyone who hates mowing, most of the growth happens under the ground. Those roots will be working hard to support the plants through the cold weather and prepare for spring growth.
You can help by clearing everything off the lawn so that the plants can see as much daylight as possible. Then, on a mild day when there is no frost forecast, give it a gentle trim. No scalping mind you! That will stress the grass too much. 3-5 cm is a good length for a winter lawn.
Trim the edges of the lawn. It will make the whole garden look neater and more manicured.
Finally apply an autumn winter lawn feed.
Here’s a labour saving tip: Installing a lawn edging similar to this will mean that you trim the edges of the lawn as you mow and they’ll never need extra attention.
There are all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes available or you can have bespoke edging made just for you. Talk to us about labour saving lawn edgings.
Moss reproduces in winter time. If your lawn is prone to moss, now is a good time to treat it. But we wary – those weed and feed products with moss killer are not suitable for winter use (they have the wrong balance of nutrients). Ask the garden centre to find you some Iron Sulphate. It’s cheap and the Iron will help give your lawn a deep green colour.
Summer bedding plants
If you grew bedding plants for colour in your garden this year they’re probably looking tired by now. Most of them are annual plants which means that they won’t grow back. Marigolds, cosmos, snapdragons, etc can be pulled up and put on the compost heap.
Some bedding plants can be overwintered – but not outdoors because they won’t tolerate frost. If you have pelargoniums (sometimes called geraniums) or impatiens (bizzy lizzy), pot them up and bring them indoors. They need to be kept safe from frost but allowed to rest, so if you have a cool and relatively dry room that’s perfect. I keep mine in the greenhouse and cover them in bubble wrap on frosty nights. They don’t all survive but when they do it saves me ££££’s on spring bedding.
Caring for tools and equipment
Once you’ve given your lawn a good trim, the mower can go off to be serviced. That’s important. Not only will it make the machine last longer, if the blades are get sharp your lawn will look much better.
Things like trowels, forks, spades, secateurs and shears need to be cleaned, oiled, sharpened if appropriate and stored away safely. Ditto for plant supports and canes that won’t be used during the winter months.
Using your garden in the winter
Gardens are definitely not out of bounds in the winter time. You can still use your outdoor space, in fact it’s important for your health that you are exposed to as much fresh air and natural daylight as possible.
Invest in a firepit
Cooking hot dogs and toasting marshmallows is a great way to spend a dry (ish) afternoon with friends and family. Have some hot chocolate on standby or maybe heat up some sloe gin (it’s even lovelier when drunk warm)
Temporary planting solutions
Plant up some hanging baskets and containers to give a burst of brightness throughout the winter. Use exciting foliage, berries, strong shapes, lights, and colour co-ordinated containers to add kerb appeal to your home.
Think ahead to spring
I’m writing this in November. It’s not quite too late to plant spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, scilla and crocus – be quick though or you will miss the opportunity.
A sadly overlooked source of colour in spring gardens are shrubs and perennial plants. True, many perennials don’t flower before May but some do.
Favourite shrubs for early flowers include
Jasmine Nudiflorum (winter flowering jasmine) is called Yingchun in Chinese which translates as “the flower that welcomes spring)
Witch Hazel has exotic looking perfumed flowers in the winter months
Or why not treat yourself to a winter flowering cherry tree?
Last but not least – Make the most of those shapes and shadows
What do you see when you look out of the window on a winter evening? Nothing? You probably need some garden lighting. Use uplighters to turn those bare trees and shrubs into exciting features.
Modern lighting systems can be operated from a mobile phone app, so you can play with the colour and intensity of the light from the warmth of your living room.
Perhaps some coloured lighting around the water feature. Recessed lights in steps or paths will guide your feet. You can use lighting to show off textures of walls and the shapes of plants or even better, to turn a pergola into a cosy outdoor space that you can’t resist using.
What a beautiful space for sharing a glass of mulled wine.
photo credit: Light Visuals
Lighting accentuates shapes and shadows and really does turn your garden into a winter wonderland. If you’d like some ideas or a hand to install outdoor lighting, call me (Paul) today. It’s one of my favourite things to do and I’d love to help.
Need some inspiration for winter planting ideas? Our colleagues at Tapestry Design Studios are ready to help
Finding winter garden jobs a chore? Let us help you remodel those high maintenance areas. Get in touch today.