The last couple of years have passed in the blink of an eye, and as the winter approaches it’s time for gardeners the world over to start looking forward to spring. Those of us who don’t have green fingers may think that autumn and winter is a quiet period in the garden with no plants and flowers to water – and to some extent that’s true – but there are still many things that need doing in preparation for the next growing season. If you’re an inexperienced gardener you may need some advice, and even if you’re an old hand in the backyard you might find some new ideas to try. So read on for 6 tips for preparing your garden for the upcoming spring.
Summer is a busy time of year in the garden, and autumn has a way of making the garden untidy with falling leaves, dying flowers and sudden changes in weather. So winter is the perfect time to do some “spring” cleaning. Remove leaves and other debris from the lawn and the beds, and tidy up the borders. You can cut back the dead deciduous grasses and herbaceous perennials now, but remember that wildlife can thrive in such an environment, so it might be best to leave the job until spring arrives. Put whatever organic material you collect into your compost heap, and weed the beds.
Organize spring crops
It’s time to think about what you’re going to plant and start ordering seeds and bulbs. When it’s too cold/rainy/snowy to be outside, sitting indoors with a cup of tea choosing summer flowering plants or crops can be very therapeutic. You have to take into account your local climate, soil type and quality, and the layout of your garden – where the sun falls and for how long – when choosing plants. There are many resources online but you can also pop to your local garden center for advice.
A lush, verdant lawn is often the centerpiece of the garden, and preparing it over the winter is an essential part of its maintenance. The lawn likes to be able to breathe, so make sure you aerate it, either with a gardening fork or those snazzy aeration shoes. Now’s a good time to check your mower and perform any maintenance on it. If you have a petrol mower you’ll need to drain both the petrol and the oil from the engine – especially important if you live in an area which has extremely cold winters. Weeding is another job for this time of year – if they are already rampant you might want to use a little herbicide. And fertilize using all that compost you’ve been collecting all year round.
Those pesky creepy crawlies may not have any crops to eat during winter, but they are still around, hibernating during the cold months. It’s the perfect time to hunt down and get rid of pests that are hanging around your garden – take a look at the crowns of your perennials where slugs, snails and aphid colonies may be lurking. When clearing pots and beds keep an eye out for vine weevil larvae – destroying this now will save you a lot of hassle when spring and summer come around.
The winter months are ideal to audit and organize your garden tools. As these will have seen a lot of action during the year, it’s wise to clean and maintain them – dirty tools can carry bacteria which can in turn spell trouble for your plants. Clean them well with a strong detergent and hot water, and dry with a clean cloth. Bladed tools will probably need a good sharpening, and it’s good to oil them for storage over the winter. Hand tools such as spades, trowels, and rakes can also benefit from oiling after a thorough clean. Make sure your tools are securely stored in a dry place and locked away.
The colder months are also a good time to sort various bits and pieces you didn’t have time to deal with over the year. Check fencing and gates for signs of weather damage or decay, relay loose patio or path stones, set up water butts to collect rain for spring, and build or repair storage for compost.
Prepping your garden properly during winter will give you a headstart when the weather warms up again and spring rears its head. Give your backyard a boost with these tips and you’ll soon be able to see the results unfold before you. Happy growing!