When it’s time to start prepping the garden ready for winter there are a few maintenance jobs that you need to take care of to make sure that your garden is in tip-top condition for the flowering season.
Getting your plants ready for winter
Not all plants are naturally equipped to deal with the cold weather. Some need a little extra help if they are to survive.
Plant cloches can be used as mini-greenhouses and can be handmade or bought ready for the job from most large garden centres. A plant fleece can be placed around the base of a young growing or damaged tree or another small plant.
You can make your own cloche using the top of a plastic drinks bottle. You can remove the lid to aid ventilation or leave it screwed on the generate heat within it. This option is ideal if you are unable to transplant plants that are in the ground to a warmer area or for heavy plants in containers.
If you do have a greenhouse, now is the time to move non-frost hardy plants to this warmer location. If your greenhouse gets too crowded, you can place container plants next to a fence or wall for a little more frost protection.
Clearing the leaves from autumn
Getting your garden ready for winter isn't just about the plants. There are a number of other maintenance jobs that also need doing around this time of the year. Many leaves are slow to fall from trees and you might still have some lying on the ground, paths and lawn.
Now is the time to clear them all away. Not only does it make your garden look tidier, but it also prevents that sludgy substance from forming underfoot. Which brings us on to…
Cleaning your paths
With the winter approaching, wet and cold weather is the ideal breeding ground for mildew and algae. This mould growth can soon become very slippery underfoot and dangerous to tread on. Areas to pay particular attention to are stone steps and pathways and timber decking areas.
Get them cleaned with a professional solution that also prevents mildew growth, making less work for you in the long run.
Cleaning tools, pots and other utensils
As we have already said, much of your winter garden prep is about maintenance. Clean your tools now to prevent the build-up of bacteria. It’s also worth sharpening them too. This will ensure your plants are not infected with anything. The same goes for your plant pots too. If you reuse terracotta or plastic pots then these need to be cleaned. You can use boiling soapy water, but make sure you rinse and dry them well before you use them again.
Tidy out your greenhouse and potting shed and sweep away debris to prevent attracting vermin.
Kill those weeds
It’s not just the warm summer months when weeds are developing. They will quite happily grow in the cold dark months. and before you know it you have a mini forest on your hands. Before the weather turns too wet, use a preventative weed killer that will keep working when you don't feel like gardening.
Think of the winter wildlife
Just because you have stopped going out into the garden, doesn't mean animals and insects have. Give them a helping hand by making your winter garden wildlife-friendly.
Place bird feeders at different levels so that they have an extra source of food when it gets colder. Squirrels and other small animals will have a go at these too, so make sure you have plenty to go around!
Hold back on deadheading all of your plans and leave the seed heads on for wildlife to feast on.
Also, hedgehogs will need some shelter so create some among your containers or buy a ready-made hedgehog shelter for these creatures this winter.