As winter takes hold it’s easy to think the work is over when in fact this couldn’t be further from the truth, there are a myriad of tasks to protect your garden from the worst that winter has to throw at it, and to prepare it for the New Year to come. Although many of these tasks you can DIY, certain jobs require the use of dangerous tools and are best left to professions such as landscapers and tree surgeons.
Trees and Hedges
- Remove any visibly dead or damaged branches on trees and shrubs.
- Slender trees over 1 meter may require staking or tree-ties to make sure they survive any harsh winter winds.
- Prune trees to your desired shape, and hedges to a taper to reduce snow accumulating.
- Snow also accumulates on larger trees – crown reductions can be carried out by trained tree-surgeons to reduce stress on the branches and lessen their risk of breaking.
- Routine annual pollarding of larger trees to control any unwanted growth and keep the tree to a manageable size.
Ponds and Wildlife
- Cold winters can freeze ponds over, killing plants and fish, if you don’t have a water-feature or pond-heater prevent freezing, floating a plastic ball on the surface can help, as can melting the ice. Don’t bash the ice, as that can harm the fish.
- Remove fallen leaves and other plant matter from the pond, this can be composted after letting any pondlife escape (leave it next to the pond for a while).
- Fill birdfeeders and place them near vegetation – tempting in birds to eat pests hiding in plants.
Grass and flowers
- Raking leaves from your lawn can ensure the grass gets sufficient sunlight, especially as the days grow darker.
- Clear any detritus from your flower borders to prevent stubborn pests hiding out, it also helps prevent the seeds of unwanted weeds taking root ready for spring.
- Prune rosebushes and protect potted roses with bubble-wrap or frost-proof pots.
Fruits and Veggies
- Larger fruit trees require pruning this time of year to keep them healthy and productive, and also to make sure they don’t outgrow your garden.
- Water greenhouse plants sparing in winter to keep moisture down and fight disease. Greenhouse heaters can also be used for this purpose.
- Dig over your veggie patch.
- Plant Spring bulbs (preferably before December), plan next year’s crops and order seeds.
Other Garden Preparation
- Bring hoses and sprinklers indoors and use protection on outside taps to prevent freezing and potentially costly damage.
- Check your greenhouse, outdoor sheds and fences for damage, rot or pests and treat accordingly – now is usually the easiest time to spot signs of trouble.
- Keep an eye out for dead or dying trees/branches which could fall on your fences or outbuildings in a storm – these should be removed by trained professionals.
- Cover any wooden furniture or put it in a dry shed to prevent mould growth or rot.
- Clean your garden tools, preventing the spread of disease or other nasties.