10 essential tasks to prepare your garden for winter

raking leaves

Autumn is the time to prepare the garden for winter, which is rather like spring-cleaning the house, but outside. Here are 10 essential tasks that will ensure your garden returns to full glory in the following spring.

  1. Gather leaves
    Rake up all the fallen leaves but, rather than burn them, think about putting them on the compost heap or creating mulch with them.
  2. Compost heap
    Put what you can on the compost heap. It can literally be a pile in the corner of the garden or you can buy a purpose built container where you add to the top and take from the bottom. All unwanted matter can go on the compost heap and will create valuable compost to feed your garden. compost heap
  3. Remove all dead vegetation
    Pull up all dead plants and annuals - these are plants that only last one season - and add them onto that compost heap. Plants that flourished and looked stunning during the summer are well past their best now. Don't be tempted to cut back ornamental grasses in beds and pots because this can kill them at this time of year. It's best to leave these until spring when the new growth is just emerging. Don't be too tidy though, as natural decay is good for the garden.
  4. Prepare the lawn
    As for the lawn, once you have got rid of weeds and moss, and pierced the lawn with a rake to aerate it and help with drainage, you can sit back and put your feet up until spring. Now is a good time to give it some fertiliser when it's still green.
  5. Prune trees, bushes and plants
    Be fairly ruthless! Cut back perennials - these are plants that spring up year after year from the roots, so these need to be cut back to about 10 to 15cm above the ground. If your clematis and honeysuckle are established, cut them back to half and they will leap forward next spring. pruning
  6. Weeding
    Pull up all weeds from all over the garden. Don't allow them to go to seed otherwise you are storing up a load of work for yourself in the following spring and summer! weeding
  7. Feed the soil
    As there is not much rainfall during the winter months, and often dry winds, the soil needs to be ready and moisture-retentive for the spring which is the key planting time. Adding compost and turning the soil over, while digging it in a little, will achieve this. The earth is receptive now, drawing in energy while all above is going dormant. feed soil
  8. Mulching
    Spread leaves over exposed soil in flower beds as they degrade and become natural fertilizer. Mulching for the winter protects plants from drastic temperature changes in the soil, insulating plants against extreme cold, and also prevents soil erosion. In general, 10 to 15cm of mulch, such as dried leaves, pine needles and shredded bark, will provide an adequate layer of protection for your softer plants. For plants in containers, the safest bet is to move them indoors. If your containers are too large or heavy to move, however, you can insulate the container by wrapping the sides in bubble-wrap and cover the soil with a generous layer of mulch.
  9. Put things away
    If you have a shed or garage, then put away watering hoses (make sure you drain them first and store them coiled), all equipment and garden furniture. Alternatively, cover it with a tough plastic protector securely fixed down. Wooden items, such as benches, screens or pergolas, may benefit from a treatment of preservative or oil to protect them. Clean, oil, and sharpen your tools, then store them in a dry place for the winter. garden tools
  10. Plant
    Plant garlic, root vegetables, bulbs and seeds for next year. This is also a good time to plant evergreen trees, shrubs and perennials before the winter really closes in. This will ensure their roots can establish before the spring, and it gives them a head start on growth for next year. The evergreens' root systems pump water all winter, so be sure to water them well before the ground freezes. Divide any perennials that you feel are getting too large by prising them apart at the root using a knife or spade, and fill empty gaps in the garden. Don't hesitate to purchase deciduous flowering shrubs at discounted prices. Even after a summer in containers, they'll adapt and make strong root growth in cool autumn soil. planting