Whether you’re a hardy perennial outdoors person or wilt at the first autumn chill, your garden depends on you for a little care and attention all year-round. As temperatures dip so does garden maintenance, but under the frosty surface roots are strengthening, soil is conditioning and pests can spread like fungal spores. There are a few winter chores which will keep your garden looking neat and cared-for, even on the dreariest winter day. These tips won’t cost you the earth, leaving more money in the flowerbed budget so your garden can blossom all the brighter come spring.
Rake it ‘til you make it
Although there’s a certain joy to be derived from crunching autumn leaves under your welly boots, you can put your scattered garden debris to good use by cultivating leaf mold, an excellent soil primer. Removing fallen foliage not only neatens up your garden, it eliminates a potential haven for pests. Leave the rake on standby until the end of fall, and then gather your leaves into strong plastic bin liners, dampen, and pierce to allow for circulation of air. Store in the garden shed until it’s time to sew those bulbs, then work into the soil for fertile bedding.
Put perished plants to rest
Nobody likes to see rotting vines and haggard sunflower heads after summer, so top up the compost heap with wizened brown stalks and make way for fresh spring growth after harvesting healthy seeds. Pull up any diseased plants and dispose of them. Either plant winter crops to maintain the soil, or add a layer of mulch and turn over gently to leave it prime condition for planting come spring.
Weed out the unwanted
If your garden is prone to weeds, they’ll be at their weakest in winter, so you can give yourself a head start in the battle against nettles and dandelions by ripping them up from the roots in autumn before the ground hardens. If you want to keep them for compost, allow weeds to decompose put them away in plastic storage bins, sealed in rubbish bags to ensure no stray seeds take root. If a patch of weeds is particularly stubborn, cover it with black tarpaulin to kill off all traces of them and prevent regrowth come spring.
Forget pricey gimmicks like incinerators, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers this winter. Burning garden waste is bad for the environment, and pruning plants only encourages them to grow at a harsh time of year. A few well-spent hours recycling garden waste, caring for soil and removing any homes for pests and disease are all it takes to get your garden ready for spring.