Money Saving Tips to Winter Proof Your Garden
Money saving ideas for your garden this winter…
Winter is well and truly upon us, and that long hot summer seems like a distant memory.
And what a summer it was! We know that many readers love your gardens and enjoyed spending time in them during the glorious summer, and taking care of them too: our article about Summer Gardening Tips helped you to keep them in tip top condition.
But now winter is here, and there are things that you can do now to make sure that you can enjoy your garden again next summer. Doing some regular garden maintenance throughout the winter will prepare your garden for spring and help you to save money and time because you won’t have to do everything at once when the warmer weather arrives.
So here are our Top Ten Tips for winter proofing your garden:
- Cleaning and clearing
Now that autumn has been and gone, it’s time to rake up any remaining leaves from lawns and borders and paths. But don’t throw them away: leaves make one of the best composts (see item 6 below).
You also need to remove any dead plants from the soil surface. Again, rather than throwing them away you can bury them in your garden which is a great way of adding organic matter to your soil, which will improve its condition so will help your garden look better next spring.
Now is also a good time to give garden furniture a good clean and put it away or cover it up for winter. Wooden furniture may also benefit from a coat of oil to keep it in tip top condition.
Winter is also a good time to do some trimming of perennial garden plants, as this will help to improve their appearance and flowering. Selective cutting back in autumn can also be useful in terms of removing any parts of the plant showing signs of decay or fungal growth. However, it’s a good idea to leave some stems on them over winter to provide homes and food for wildlife, and then trim them back further in spring.
Now that summer has gone it’s tempting to think there is no weeding to be done. But the onset of winter is the ideal time to deal with persistent weeds so that you can start spring with a clean slate. Make sure you get rid of the weeds completely – either in a garden bin or the local tip or a bonfire. If they are left lying around anywhere they are likely to spread all over again.
- Treat your soil
Winter can seem like an odd time to do this, but it will enable you to get a head start for spring. So if you like to add manure or compost to your soil, do it now. This will enable the nutrients to have plenty of time to start breaking down and enriching your soil, making it ready to use once spring arrives. If you are worried about a wet or cold winter then you can cover the treated soil with plastic sheeting to protect it. Then in spring all you need to do is remove it and hoe the soil, ready to plant.
Of course there is also some planting activity that you can do in winter. If you have a greenhouse or other indoor planting area then you can sow flower seeds such as antirrhinums, cyclamen, geraniums and begonias. Herbs such as basil, dill, chives and parsley can also be sown indoors now, as can hardy salad leaves such as lettuce.
If you are into fruit and vegetable growing then there are also a range of crops that can be sown directly outdoors during winter, including broad beans, raspberry canes, blackberries, strawberries, rhubarb, gooseberries and blueberries.
We referred to compost earlier. Composting is simply the process of recycling organic materials – such as leaves, grass, and food scraps – that would otherwise be regarded as waste. The resulting compost is rich in nutrients and acts as an excellent soil conditioner. Winter is a good time to use up all your existing compost to feed your soil then start another batch processing, ready for springtime.
- Replenish mulch
Mulching is something that you can do in your garden year round. Mulching is simply adding another layer to the surface of the soil. Mulch typically consists of organic material such as bark, compost, manure, grass clippings, newspaper, shredded leaves or straw. Mulch can help to protect the soil from erosion, regulate soil temperatures and retain moisture. It can suppress weeds and make the garden bed look more attractive. Also as the mulch breaks down it incorporates fresh organic material into your soil.
It’s tempting to think that grass needs no attention during the winter, but if you give your grass a bit of care during winter it will pay dividends next year. So keep cutting the grass if it needs it, but ensure you do not cut too short so that there is still a reasonable amount of ground cover. It also helps if you ensure that the soil under your lawn is able to drain freely so aerate your lawn either with a machine or garden fork, and if possible fill in the holes with a gritty compost as this will aid drainage.
- Clean and sharpen tools
Winter is a good time to make sure that all your tools are in their best condition. So take time to give them a good wash to remove dirt and debris, and remove any rust with sandpaper or a wire brush. Sharpen tools with a metal file or sharpening stone: however if any tool is very blunt it may be time to replace it. Then rub the surfaces of your tools with an oiled rag coated in light machine oil. Oiling helps to seal the metal from oxygen and will extend the life of your tools for another year.
Last but definitely not least ensure that your garden is a haven for wildlife over the winter. Many small mammals such as hedgehogs, dormice and bats hibernate and may be hiding in nooks and crannies – so do take care while you are clearing.
But birds do not hibernate and will need to find sources of food and water all through winter. So you may want to provide a well-stocked bird table with high-fat foods such as black sunflower seeds, grated suet and fruit. You can also hang peanuts in feeders around the garden. Water is also really important so that birds can clean their feathers to keep them waterproof and help to keep them warm. So if you can, provide a bird bath and refresh the water regularly. It is also a good time to clean out nesting boxes ready for spring and also so that they are available for roosting during winter.
It may be winter but spring will soon be on its way, and if you invest time and effort now in keeping your garden in good condition, you will really appreciate it when spring comes. Check back here soon for more lifestyle and money saving tips from Loans 2 Go.