Preparing Your Garden For Winter

With the colder weather just beginning to put in an appearance and the weather reports suggesting that we’ve got a particularly chilly season to look forward to, more and more people are beginning to think about how to prepare their garden for the chilly months. In the same way you prepare yourself and your home for the cold (digging out coats, jumpers, and winter duvets as well as getting the heating set), your garden will benefit from a bit of a spruce up.

Clear the leaves

Leaves can be a real problem if you don't keep on top of them. Leaves get everywhere. If you’re not too much of a stickler for a tidy lawn then you might not be too worried about picking up all the strays, but they can cause problems later on. An abundance of leaves can actually suffocate your poor lawn, so a quick tidy up can make a lot of difference to the general appearance of your grass in the spring time. A leaf covered lawn is a better environment for moss to thrive, and the worms which tend to gather in leafy build ups could attract moles as well.

For a smaller garden, a rake is a quick and easy way to tidy up unwanted leaves. These can be tidied into bags and left to create leaf mould or added to your compost heap. For a larger lawn you might consider a leaf blower – one with a vacuum function will save you even more time.

If you just can’t be dealing with collecting stray leaves, running over them with a mulching mower will alleviate the problem. Even a mower with a collection bag will do something to remove unwanted leaves from otherwise pristine lawns.

Leaves will also invariably find their way into gutters, and if not kept in check, the poor drainage could even cause internal leaking. It’s not hard to do, and while not necessary pleasant, it’s a great deal quicker and easier to clear your guttering than it is to fix a leaky roof and a flood damaged room.

Prepare for snow

RobinIt’s a good time of year, if you’re lucky enough to own a snow blower, to test it. Many people won’t even consider getting theirs out and firing it up until winter has a firm grip, or even until snow is preventing them from getting to work or from doing the school run.

There are plenty of remote parts of the country where a bit of snow can equate to quite a big problem, and so once snow is beginning to sound likely, workshops quickly become inundated with snow blower service requests and stocks deplete quickly. To make sure you’re still able to get where you need to be, we would highly recommending testing and having your snow blowers service while it is still mild. You’ll find workshops are currently much less busy with lawnmower guarantee work, and many people won’t have considered the snow blower yet, so you’ll get your machine back quickly.

After all, a snow blower is more or less zero use if it doesn’t work in the one or two weeks when you actually need it.

Equally, if you’re thinking about buying a snow blower, now is the time to be looking. If you wait until the weather gets colder, there will be a lot more people also looking to snap up one of these useful products, and you’ll find yourself with limited choice (if any at all). While they don’t contain the heated element which really makes a snow blower useful, a leaf blower can also be used to help clear your paths, and will prove pretty effective on light, dry snow. Make sure you dry you blower before putting it away as they’re not typically designed for wetter weather conditions.

Turn off outdoor water supplies

While an outdoor tap is hugely useful in the summer months for watering and car washing, in the winter they become much less commonly used, and the water can be more of a problem. Any moisture left in the faucet or the pipes can freeze, which can cause the pipes to burst. To prevent this from happening, turn off the water supply on the inside, and drain any residual water. Remove the hose, and store it, along with any accessories, somewhere a bit warmer such as the shed or a garage.

Relocate compost heaps, log piles and leaves

Preparing your logs well inadvance will mean they're well seasoned by winter. This might not be one for everyone, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. If you have a compost heap (or a wood pile, or even a pile of leaves) near your house, you should seriously consider moving them to the end of the garden. These warm areas become tempting winter homes for rodents, insects, and small animals, and as it gets colder they might consider moving into your house for warmth. A pest problem outside is less than ideal, but when it becomes a pest problem inside your house, it might all be a bit too much.

Move piles carefully and try not to disturb any winter residents. Hedgehogs in particular are partial to a nap under a pile of leaves, and if you’re too aggressive with your garden fork you could cause them an injury.

Cover or store your garden furniture

Garden furnitureMany people will have a table and chairs to sit at during barbeques and for summer evenings, but in the winter sitting outside soon becomes less appealing. The furniture itself is unlikely to be designed to withstand the rigors of winter, so prolong its life by covering or – if you’ve got room – store in your garage or shed to keep it dry.

Barbeques which take pride of place on the patio from May until September are best cleaned and covered or stored as well, as they too can be damaged by the chilly weather.

Extra jobs

As gardening will be winding down and you’ll have less need for tools and machinery, it’s a good time to make sure everything is in good working order. By cleaning equipment before putting it away you can make sure that there’s nothing which needs to be repaired or replaced, and you’ll find it easier to care out gardening jobs when the weather starts improving again.

The cold weather can be particularly problematic for potted plants. If you’ve noticed a frost is forecast, simply move plants into a shed, garage, or greenhouse where possible to protect them. If you don’t have the space or your plants are too heavy, wrap the outside of the pot in bubble wrap or hessian, and secure. If you have a lot of potted plants, push them all up against your house (it’s likely to be warmer here as heat escapes), and then make sure they’re all tight together. Wrap a single sheet of protective material around all the pots to insulate.

Clean the windows on greenhouse and on your house as this will maximise the amount of light allowed in, and you’ll find it can make a significant difference to heating.

Is there anything else you do to prepare your garden for winter? Have you come across any solutions to common problems? Send us your advice and we will include in this post!