Practical advice: preparing your garden for winter
Autumn is an important and busy time in the garden. A little time spent tidying and making provisions will pay, enabling you to enjoy your garden just as much in winter as summer.
Autumn is an important and busy time in the garden. It’s a time of transition, when summer plants naturally start to decay and winter vegetation takes over. A little time spent tidying and making provision for the colder months will pay dividends, enabling you to enjoy your garden just as much in winter as in summer.
Now that the days are getting shorter, sunlight is becoming a precious commodity. Move any plants in your conservatory or garden room out of shaded areas and towards the windows so that they can gain full exposure to the daylight. Do the same with greenhouses, removing shade paint or window coverings to maximise the sunlight available to plants. Likewise, move any sensitive potted plants that have been outside for summer into the conservatory or greenhouse for protection until next year.
In the garden, removing old grass clippings, moss and fallen foliage will revitalise your lawn. Trees will be shedding their leaves soon so you may as well put them to good use – most leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs will rot down to make lovely leaf compost within a couple of years.
If borders were planted for spring, then while the soil is still warm in autumn it’s a good time to move things around and adjust layouts to suit autumn and winter plants. Also use this time to thin out perennials. Don’t be too harsh with pruning though; some plants have very nice looking seed heads that you might want to keep visible, giving beautiful winter silhouettes.
Equally, for borders or around your orangery, the absence of summer blooms may reveal gaps. Planting evergreens will refill the border and provide structure as well as year round interest. In future, come next spring this means that you can simply add flowers for colour throughout summer, and retain a full border in colder months, too.
It’s also a good idea to consider wildlife in colder months, when food and shelter can become sparse. Holly, Ivy and other seeding plants provide natural food as well as looking attractive, and they also enable animals to shelter from the harsh weather. Birds and other animals will also rely on food being put out when it’s especially cold, and encouraging them to your garden will have the added benefit of helping keep overwintering pests in check. Placing bird feeders strategically in the garden will enable you to enjoy the visiting wildlife from the comfort of your garden room, so there’s no need to brave the cold to fully enjoy the outdoors.
The end of summer doesn’t mean giving up on gardening until next Spring. Now that blooms have faded and vegetables have been harvested, it’s time to clear out any debris and create your winter garden.