There is still a lot to do in the garden to make sure that it’s ready for next year and looking even better.
9 must do’s for the garden this Winter:
1. Attend to the garden infrastructure
Replace cracked or disintegrating pavers, broken lights, damaged outside furniture, clean out bird’s nests and flood debris, and generally spruce the garden up. Tidy the garden borders and tie climbing plants securely to the wall or fence in readiness for the gale force winds. Clear all the autumn leaves and then sweep all the drives and paths.
2. Shaping and Pruning
Prune as much as you can right back. Get rid of any dead branches, rogue offshoots and anything that is too long or overpowering. Remember, the secret to a fabulous garden is balance. Then refine your pruning and properly shape the bushes and shrubs. (And dig out that invasive Bamboo and ivy from next door).
3. Dig over soil
Providing it isn’t below freezing and the earth is still soft enough, dig the soil over and add some choice nutrients to give it a head start in the Spring. Digging and forking the soil allows you to loosen it, remove weeds and add the compost or manure, which will improve the soil, keep it moist and add a food reserve for plants. Your effort will be rewarded with a healthier crop of vegetables or glorious flowers next year.
4. Close up any outside swimming pools down
Unless the pool is heated (with electricity going up 10%, that could work out very expensive!) then it is time to give it one last clean, vacuum the leaves off the surface, add the relevant chemicals and cover it up with its bubble blanket or cover. It’s worth keeping an eye on it through the Winter. Often little animals tend to find their way under the blanket and fall in, which can contaminate the water and look unsightly.
5. Lawn care
Give the lawn one last cut and then split the lawn into sections and go over it on your hands and knees (yes literally - just like the police looking for a murder weapon), weeding and taking out dead grass and moss as you go. Then sprinkle some lawn feed over it to keep it going through the next three months.
6. Protect your delicates
You need to protect small shrubs and herbs from frost or bring them indoors. Hardy herbs such as Rosemary will slow down over the winter but will be fine to clip and use throughout. Protect your herbs with a mesh, cloche or fleece. Throw away any that are spindly or diseased and start again next year.
7. Clean your tools
It’s amazing how lazy we all get about cleaning tools as we hurry to finish with the gardening chore and fire up the barbecue during summer. As a consequence some of your expensive tools will be caked in soil and grass or starting to rust. Those that need a squirt of oil will need joints lubricating and blades sharpening. Anything that is broken - throw out now. But make a note to replace them before you start again next year. Be careful to put poisonous liquids out of the reach of children. In fact lock them away in a cupboard if you can. Children will reach anything if they want to!
8. Tidy the shed
This is the time to get inside the shed (if you still can) and throw out all the old bottles and empty bags that are still kicking about the shed and cluttering it up. Sort out the outside toys- cricket wickets and bats and balls, nets etc, and generally give the shed a good going over. It’s best to take everything out of the shed and then put everything back in again in an orderly fashion. You’ll feel great afterwards and you won’t believe how much space there is.
9. Plan next year’s garden strategy
If you feel the need to alter the flow of the garden, now is the time to sit down with a pencil and paper, and possibly a gardening expert, and draw out the new look you wish to achieve. Whether it is a statue or a pond, a new path or a full on swimming pool winter is the time to start visualising it and pegging it out.