10 ways to prepare your garden for winter
Winter can cause damage to your garden if you don’t prepare for the cold and wet weather. The ideal time to check your wooden shed, fences and garden furniture for wear and tear, and take care of any routine maintenance, is before the cold sets in. Here are 10 simple jobs to tackle this weekend and prevent damage to your home, garden and belongings.
1. Tidy up and put away furniture
Garden furniture is vulnerable to damage over the winter and the best solution is to store it in a large shed or garage. Put any soft furnishings in plastic bags to guard against dust and damp. If this isn’t possible, or you need more detailed advice, see our article on how to protect garden furniture over winter.
Garden tools also need to be put away to stop them from rusting; the best place to store hand tools is upright in a pot of dry sand. The sand absorbs water which prevents rusting and helps to keep the tools nice and sharp.
2. Insulate outdoor taps
Prevent your taps from freezing in the winter by insulating them with an outdoor tap insulator. Inexpensive to buy, simply slip them over your tap.
3. Check garden buildings and fences
Harsh winter weather presents a threat to garden buildings like sheds and greenhouses so be sure to prepare them. Inspect your wooden structures for damage such as split timber, loose nails or torn felting. Check your fence at the same time, and repair or replace any damaged panels before the worst of the weather hits. For an ultimate guide to shed maintenance, download our free PDF guide.
4. Cover drains and clear out gutters
Colourful autumn leaves look lovely scattered over our lawns, however they can cause havoc in drains and gutters. Make sure that your drains are protected (plastic covers are great for this) and that your gutters are free of mulch. Blocked gutters can cause damp in your home, so this is an important task all year round.
5. Give your lawn a winter cut
If you let snow and frost settle on long grass, this could stunt growth and damage the roots. Mow the lawn and tidy up the edges before the worst of the weather draws in. While you’re at it, give your hedges one last winter trim so everything looks tidy until the spring.
6. Wrap up tender plants
To prevent winter damage to plants and flowers you may need to protect less hardy specimens. This includes young fruit trees, non-hardy perennials and tropical plants. Use a greenhouse to keep your tender plants free from frost, or wrap them in horticultural fleece.
7. Add insulating mulch
Mulch helps to insulate plants during the winter. Straw, bark, wood chippings and manure all make excellent options. Spread liberally around the base of fruit trees and on your vegetable beds and herbaceous borders to keep plants healthy throughout the chilly months.
8. Water the soil
Moist soil actually produces more heat than dry soil does. In order to prevent the soil freezing, give your garden a good water first thing in the morning.
9. Bring in pots and hanging baskets
Potted plants are much more vulnerable than those planted directly into the ground; the soil in pots doesn’t drain as easily and the wet weather can drown your plants.
It’s best to move pots and hanging baskets under cover until spring. You don't need a huge greenhouse for this, a small lean-to greenhouse is sufficient. Any young plants should also be taken inside to help them grow over the winter months.
Make sure that you harvest herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil before bringing them in to encourage growth in the spring. You should also prune your plants by cutting away dead heads and leaves before tucking them in for winter.
10. Aerate your lawn
Lawns take a lot of care during the spring and summer to keep them healthy, so don’t let the winter destroy your hard work. Aerating grass during October and November (by creating lots of small holes) helps water and nutrients to get to the roots quicker, resulting in a nice healthy lawn. You can aerate using a pitch fork or a specialist machine.
Tackle these easy tasks and your garden will be perfectly prepared to withstand whatever the winter throws at it. Looking for more advice? Pick up a wide range of garden tips here.
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