Preparing Your Garden for Autumn and Winter
You may recall, The Life of Stuff post on how to spruce up your garden in time for Spring. Now, we are offering tips on how to tend to your garden during autumn and winter. In truth, though, much of the gardening you will do during the autumn is in preparation for winter, and rightfully so. Winter can be quite unforgiving. That said, here are some pointers that will help you tend your garden through the colder months of the year.
Rake Away Those Leaves
That colourful carpet of autumn leaves may look nice, but they’re bad news for your lawn. They block out much-needed light and trap moisture, and this is a potentially lethal combination for the turf below. So, don’t let those falling leaves pile up. Rake them away immediately and your turf will thank you for it. But don’t throw those loose leaves waya just yet; instead, House & Garden recommends that you use them as homemade leaf mould to improve the soil.
Mow the Lawn
Gardener Liz Baessler points out in ‘Lawn Care in Winter – Tips on Caring for Winter Lawns’ that caring for your grass in the winter starts during the autumn. You should mow your lawn just before the first frost approaches to ensure the grass stays a healthy height. Make sure you “gradually lower the blade of your lawnmower with each mowing” to trim your grass to just the right height — short enough to discourage rodents from living there but not too short that it will die in the winter. Screwfix lists a variety of lawnmowers with different cutting heights ranging from as short as 38 millimetres to as long as 102 millimetres. This variety ensures that you can mow your lawn with the utmost precision to any desired height. And as mentioned, this capability is of particular importance come winter.
Loosen the Soil and Fertilise
Regular aeration keeps soil from becoming compacted. It also prevents thatch build up. The latter purpose is particularly crucial as thatch, being a thick layer of roots, stems, and debris, blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. Some gardeners make a crucial mistake of simply poking holes into the soil. Instead, you should make use of a hoe for proper ventilation. Aside from preventing thatch build up, loosening the soil will also let the fertiliser get deep into the roots, where it can be most effective. Afterward, fertilise the soil using a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and potassium. Nitrogen helps plants produce chlorophyll, which provide the plants with nutrients to stay healthy. Potassium, on the other hand, is vital for root growth, disease protection, and cold resistance.
Weed Out Dying Plants, Protect Healthy Ones
It is never a good idea to have dead or dying plants sharing the same space occupied by healthy plants. So, check out your entire garden and get rid of any dying plants. As for your healthy plants, make sure you protect them accordingly. You can, for instance, cover them with clear polyethylene so that they won’t rot during the cold weather.
Cover Your Garden with Compost and Mulch
Covering your garden with a combination of compost and mulch is highly recommended. This mix, according to House Beautiful, will protect your plants not only from frost but also from wildlife. Perhaps just as important, a layer of compost plus mulch will provide the plants with the vital nutrients they need to survive the icy chill of wintertime.
Water Your Garden
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should stop watering your plants. It is best if you do it early in the morning to prevent the water from freezing. During the night, the water in the soil traps heat, which then helps warm the surrounding area.
Winter can be very unforgiving. But you know it will come and when it does, you have no excuse not to be ready. With the aforementioned tips, your garden will be ready for sure.
Written by Trey Goldstein. Trey is a retired horticulturist who has worked on gardens all across Europe. He is now sharing his gardening know-how as a freelance writer. His free time is spent tending his own garden..