As summer fades into autumn, it’s a good idea to take a look at your garden and see what needs doing before winter sets in. This checklist details the simple, but essential maintenance tasks for the garden.
From the stylish teak bench to the hardwood dining set, more of us are investing in garden furniture for the warmer months. But even hardwood, if we don’t protect it from the cold, will struggle to make it through winter after winter.
- Clean it so there is no dirt for moss to take hold of or other detritus that can hasten the demise of garden furniture.
- Protect it with a waterproof cover that fits well.
- Put it undercover in the garage or garden shed if you have the space.
- Especially make sure you don't forget about the lone bench at the bottom of your garden! Read our handy guide to find out how to care for your bench this winter.
The good news, it isn’t all scrubbing and shutting down the garden for winter because autumn is the best time to deep-plant spring flowering bulbs (leave your summer bulbs until early spring).
Daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses are just three examples of early spring bulbs that like the autumn and winter to get bedded in. You’ll need to plant them at the right depth and give them a good chunk of bulb fibre to nourish them for a glorious show in the spring.
The rate that compost decomposes over the winter months slows down as the temperature cools so you’ll want to give it a final boost ready for lush, fertile compost ready for use in spring.
Turn it – get a garden fork and give it a good turn so that as much air is incorporated as possible.
As the autumn takes holds, the leaves will fall from deciduous shrubs and trees. Don’t leave them on the flower beds and allotment as they can harbour insects larvae that spell disaster come the warmth of spring.
Bag it – sweep up the leaves and stuff into black bags. Leave for a year as it’ll be beautiful leaf mulch ready for use the next spring.
Check your seed stock
Growing from seed is a cost-effective way of adding yet more blooms, colour and fragrance to your garden. But seeds exposed over winter won’t grow as well.
Spent seeds can go in the compost but for others, keep them in a sealed, watertight container where they retain their nutrients and are also out of harm’s way when it comes to hungry mice and rats.
… but do so wisely as the last thing you need is an exposed cut getting frostbite and losing the plant. Trim shrubs into shape but don't overdo it!
They gave you fantastic colour all summer and with a warm autumn, you’ll get a few more weeks of colour. But comes the chilly nights, they will fade away. Remove summer plants, placing on the compost heap.
Pots and hanging baskets
It is tempting when the cool of autumn arrives to just leaves pot and hanging baskets full of compost and deal with them when spring comes. The problem is, they can harbour insects and larvae which comes next year, could be the critters that chew through your early spring blooms.
Remove summer plants, placing on the compost heap.
Gardening tools can cost a fair bit. And so, from the spade to the shovel, garden fork and all the other tools you regularly use, before you store them away for winter, they too need some care.
- Clean them off so that there is nothing to attract insects or rodents.
- Next, oil hinges and clasps such as on your secateurs and pruners so that they don’t seize over winter.
- Clean out water cans and the like too, leaving them to dry in an autumn breeze before putting away for winter.
Welcome nature over winter
Not all garden bugs are bad so why not build a bug hotel to welcome ladybirds and bees looking for a safe place to deposit their eggs? And garden birds are essential for balancing the ecology of your garden. Don’t forget, nesting boxes for birds too.
Pile twigs in a damp, undisturbed area of the garden and stock up of garden bird seed as well as high energy fat balls and sticks. Birds will rely on you through the winter, so make sure you feed them regularly. You’ll be rewarded in spring with the first glimpses of their fluffy young and their hunger for emerging insects.