At Trees Direct, we’re now beginning to cast our gaze upon those upcoming winter months (a far cry from our last blog post about protecting your garden from the summer heat).
Autumn is now in full swing, and as the greens slowly turn to bright shades of yellows and oranges and your plants and vegetables begin to succumb to the slow encroachment of chilly frosts, it might well be tempting to shut the garden gate and let mother nature do her thing until the spring rolls around again.
After all, what’s left to do until spring anyway?
Well, the answer to that really depends on what your goals are for spring 2019. A few simple steps now will save you a lot more effort later on.
Here are our top suggestions.
Remove Rotting & Dying Plants
Plants reaching the end of their life, obviously look unsightly, but they can also carry disease, pests and fungi. Many unwanted summer pests are known to lay eggs on the leaves and stalks of plants. By removing dead ones, you prevent the eggs from getting a head start in the spring.
Burying dead, disease-free plants is also a perfect way to improve the organic make-up of the soil; promoting health and prosperity.
Prepare The Soil
Most of us reserve this job for the spring, but autumn is an excellent time to dig deep in order to enrich the soil with the kinds of vital nutrients that are necessary to encourage growth in spring. Colder climates help the nutrients to break down, which enhances the soil and encourages a bio-diverse balance.
It also means you won’t need to wait until the rain subsides before you can begin to work on the soil. Similarly, working on the land now helps to improve the drainage of the ground when the rain and snow come down.
Once you’ve completed this, you could cover the soil with mulch or manure or some of kind of covering to prevent winter rains from washing all the nutrients below the active root zone. Once the frosts and cold weather come you can put straw around the top of the roots of non-hardy plants to give them added protection.
Clean the Greenhouse Exterior
Come October, the days get shorter, and daylight will become a scarce commodity. Removing any grime that could prevent maximum sunlight will involve a little scrubbing, but it’s certainly worth doing.
Use it as an opportunity to replace any damaged panels and empty any guttering around the perimeter of the greenhouse.
Smarten Up The Borders
Dig up annuals and chuck them on the compost. This gives you space to plant a winter bedding to create a colourful display. Pansies, Cyclamen and other winter flowering plants can give pleasure now and bulbs will bring joy and colour in early spring.
Autumn presents an excellent opportunity to move poorly placed plants and split overcrowded perennials before the soil becomes too cold.
Once you’re happy with the state of your borders, spread a thick layer of mulch across them. Don’t worry about digging it in too far though – the worms will deal with that.
Give Your Lawn Some TLC
If your lawn looks like it’s seen better days and let’s face it, with all of the changeable weather we’ve had this year, who would blame it for looking a little weather-beaten, it’s time for some TLC.
If your grass has large patches of moss, then you may want to use a moss killer before attempting to remove it with a rake. In areas that are walked over most, such as next to paths or play areas, the soil will become compacted. To improve aeration in these places, take a garden fork and dig in around every 10cm.
A sandy top dressing brushed into the grass, and an application of autumn lawn food will prepare your lawn for the cold winter.
Evergreen plants and trees form the foundation of any garden, providing colour and structure all year round. In the autumn, the soil is still warm, and the weather is getting cooler, which makes it the perfect time to fill your gaps with wonder evergreens.
Hardy Geraniums, Escallonias and some Magnolias provide a beautiful gloss throughout the winter when the rest of the garden is inactive. They’ll also continue to compliment your garden with a lovely display of flowers through the summer.
Please look out for our advice in our next blog on bare rooted trees and shrubs.
Lift Delicate Plants
You’ll need to make sure you lift the more delicate species before the first frosts begin to descend. Cut back the stems and lift tubers from the soil. Once you’ve removed all the loose soil, store them in trays of dry compost or sand, but only with the crown visible.
Some non-hardy plants can be potted and kept in a greenhouse or garage, very delicate shrubs, trees and plants might need fleece to cover them with straw or fleece around the top of the pot.
Store them in a cool place, away from the frost so they can survive and be replanted in spring.
If you have a pond in your garden, beware of falling leaves. Once leaves begin to decompose they will foul the water and potentially block up your filters which can harm the ecosystem of the water.
Instead of heading out into the garden on a blustery armed with a net, why not prevent all of that, by installing a pond net during the autumn?
Service & Store Equipment
Before you start packing away your garden equipment, it’s worth taking a little time to make sure everything is sharpened and left in a state where you can just pick up where you left off.
Clearly, they’ll be a lot of moisture in the air over winter. Secateurs, and shears will go rusty if they aren’t cleaned, sharpened and oiled correctly.
It’s much better to try to plan for the spring. There’s nothing worse than finding out that those few steps you neglected to take have given the winter weather and creepy-crawlies a chance to get the drop on you.
If you have any questions about caring for your garden during challenging conditions, why not contact us on 01584 878 878 to take advantage of our free advice line?