As the leaves continue to fall, and we begrudgingly turn on the heating, you might look out into your garden and wonder what you should be doing to prepare for the damaging frosts yet to creep in and heavy rain soon to fall.
First things first, it’s a good idea to consider what you need your garden for over the winter months.
Do you simply shut and lock those back doors until spring rolls round and let nature do its thing?
Will you continue to use your outdoor space for entertaining – grouping friends round a hot chiminea with warming drinks and plenty of layers of clothing?
Or are you a grow-your-own enthusiast, who uses the garden to cultivate food, to put on the table?
Understanding what you need your outdoor space for is key to planning your maintenance time and what tasks you should add to your to-do list.
For the bare minimum gardener
You like your garden to look nice, but you’re not out every weekend tending to your plants or mowing the lawn. You secretly wish your garden would tend for itself but you know you need to head outside anyway, to make sure it looks good.
If you have any tender plants, such as dahlias and begonias, these should be lifted before frost can do any damage. It’s also a good idea to start planting spring bulbs, plan a trip to your local garden centre for some brightly coloured plants, to welcome the warmer weather back. If you really don’t want to head outside you can order your bulbs and seeds online, through sites such as Spalding Bulb.
Lawn care is of great importance over the winter, heavy rain and snow can lead to a soggy grass area, which will be harder to maintain and use when the warmer weather rolls around. Remove moss, old grass and any fallen leaves with a rake and if the soil is looking worn make holes across the lawn area with a garden fork, to create better drainage for the soil.
If you have a compost bin autumn is a great time to use its contents to distribute round your border plants and those freshly planted bulbs, to give them a burst of nourishment before winter sets in. Once your bin is empty place the raked up leaves, plant debris and old grass in the bin, to start again ready for next year.
For the entertainer
Even when it’s cold the garden can still be used as a space for entertaining. Halloween, Bonfire Night and even Christmas provide the perfect opportunity to get friends round and make use of the outdoor space. If you intend to entertain outside make sure your patio area is prepared, use a pressure hose to clean paving slabs and remove moss growth, which can damage your patio. Brush the dirty water off with a strong long handled brush and leave it to dry in the winter sunshine. Wash down your chairs and tables as well, as spiders start to move into your garden over the autumn months.
For the grow your own enthusiast
Your greenhouse will be your safe haven if you grow your own fruit and veg, so get it ready for winter by having a good old fashioned clean out. Remove all your plants and sweep out any debris, then disinfect the sides and paths and give the glass a clean too, so your plants can enjoy as much winter sun as possible.
It’s also a good opportunity to plant some vegetables ready to move into your main allotment area in the spring. Vegetables that grow well in greenhouses over the winter months include carrots, peas, garlic, onions and asparagus.
If you have a herb garden move these plants inside, most herb species are pretty hardy but if there is a particularly bad frost you can think again about using fresh basil in your bolognaise. Simply move the plants into the conservatory or onto the kitchen windowsill to ensure they thrive until spring.
Now, whatever your gardening expertise or experience, you can tackle the main jobs required for your outdoor space, to ensure it stays well maintained over the winter months.