Here's how to put your garden 'to bed' for the winter
You might think that young people would prefer to be snapping pictures of their gardens rather than tending to them, but new research has revealed that many twenty and thirty-somethings are actually secretly green fingered.
A survey by furniture provider, Alfresia, revealed that the average 25-35 year old spends a not insignificant 12 to 15 hours in their garden each month.
Experts attribute this new found love of the great outdoors to TV shows such as ‘Love Your Garden’ and ‘Big Dreams, Small Spaces’, which has been dubbed the horticultural equivalent of GBBO.
But while it’s easy to see why people love tending to their gardens when the summer sun is shining, when the colder weather rolls in, preening your plants unsurprisingly slips down the to-do list.
New research by Tiger Sheds, revealed that a massive two in five (40%) of Brits don’t take precautions to prepare their garden for the cooler weather.
What’s more, 52% completely abandon their gardens and fail to do any gardening throughout winter.
Almost one in ten (9%) said that they don’t care for their garden in winter because they think that their plants will die regardless, and 8% said they would just replace anything that that is damaged by the winter weather.
Now that’s not the attitude is it?
But even though tending to our tendrils may be slightly less inviting as the colder temps rolls in, there’s still plenty to do.
“With November just around the corner, there is still plenty to do in the garden (weather permitting),” says BBC Gardeners’ World TV presenter Mark Lane.
“If you are a first-time gardener, or more experienced, it helps to follow some simple tips so that you can put your garden to bed, giving you extra time to sit indoors and plan for next year.”
Here’s our expert guide to putting your garden ‘to bed’ for the winter….
Put your plants to bed
“If you have a lot of pots, with bulbs, seasonal bedding, perennials or shrubs and trees, it is advisable to insulate your pots, which keeps the compost and roots warm – a bit like a duvet,” advises Mark Lane.
Mark says the best materials to use are bubble wrap around the pot, tied in place with string or horticultural fleece. “But ensure you do not cover the compost,” he warns.
Give your lawn some attention
Whether or to keep mowing your lawn when the damp, cold weather hits is something that confuses even the most experienced of gardeners. But according to Gena Lorainne, horticulturist and gardening Expert at Fantastic Services now is the perfect time to get the mower out.
“Mowing is important as it prevents the spread of mouldy fungus,” she says. “Grass stops growing when temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees F). Late October or early November is considered to be a suitable time to mow your lawn for the last time for the year.”
And the lawn love doesn’t end with mowing. “Now is also a good time to aerate the soil using a garden fork, rake off leaves (collect in a leaf composting bay or black bin bags with holes in and moistened to create leaf mulch), rake out moss and thatch, attack lawn weeds, and if there is time feed with an autumn lawn fertiliser,” Mark adds.
Show shrubs and trees some love
“Specimens growing in pots need attention,” warns Mark. He suggests lifting the pot off the ground, and insulating with bubble wrap or horticultural fleece, ensuring the compost is not covered.
Mark says that though olive trees are very hardy they do need time to acclimatise themselves to the British climate. “During prolonged periods of cold, bring the tree inside, a cool greenhouse or light porch are ideal,” he says. “If this is not possible, double wrap with bubble wrap around the pot only and horticultural fleece to protect the tree itself.”
“The main damage to shrubs and trees over winter is from cold temperatures, wind and snow,” Mark continues. “Remove any branches that are dead, decaying, crossing or diseased. During snowy weather, try to go outdoors and brush off the snow, as the weight of the snow can damage your plants (prune hedges so that they taper towards the top).”
For a great way to introduce colour Mark recommends planting now for winter and spring displays. Pop them in now and you’ll get a nice surprise when they spring up in the new year. “Try Pansy, Viola, Primrose, Polyanthus, Wallflower and Sweet William,” he suggests. “You can select warm colours or cool colours depending upon your preference – or perhaps a mixture of both to bring a bit of a zing to the grey skies of winter.”
Tend to your tools
Garden equipment and tools need maintenance too! Gena recommends sharpening all shears and secateurs. “The other tools, such as forks, spades, etc. will benefit well from a simple washing with water,” she advises. “Let them dry well and oil the metal parts with olive oil to avoid rust. If there is a problem with your lawn mower, repair it before storing it in the garage.”
Pick your perennials
Hello herbaceous hardy perennials! For the novice gardeners among us these are non-woody plants that die back to the ground each autumn. The roots, however, survive the winter and the plants re-sprout in the spring.
Mark suggests choosing plants with a good structure for winter interest, such as ornamental grasses, Eryngium and Rudbeckia. “Other plants may be floppy, so cut these back close to the ground. Remove decaying leaves, flowers and stems and add these to your compost bins, burn or take them to the local council tip,” he says. “Do not leave them in the border, as they are a great place for slugs and snails to hide.”
“If starting a new garden, now is a good time to plant hardy herbaceous plants (leave ornamental grasses until the spring). Bare root plants (i.e. in no pot) are cheaper than pot grown plants, so a whole border can be created for a fraction of the cost.
Fix your fences
“Don’t ignore your fences – repair any cracked sections, if there are any,” says Gena. “You might need to replace some fence posts or panels. Note that bad weather tends to damage fence panels effortlessly so secure them well.”
Future-proof your garden
According to Mark advice for winter gardening may change in the future thanks to the uncertainty of climate change. Though there are plenty of negatives associated with global warming, the milder winters and drier summers offer great potential for growers and give better survival of more tender plants.
“For the gardener, however, it will mean change,” he warns. “Winter and cold spells allow shrubs and trees to go into a deep dormant period. Milder winters increase susceptibility to frost and scorch caused by cold winds and sudden cold snaps. Lawns will of course need more mowing and feeding, unless we all turn to artificial lawns! Erratic weather, storms and more rain (especially in the north of the UK) will result in the use of more robust plants and borders will be planted to cope with floods.”
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