3 Aug 2011

The Winter Gardener

Posted by bcsands

While winter may be a dormant period for many plants in your garden, that’s no reason for you to be dormant! There are many tasks that you can be getting on with that will ensure your garden is blooming wonderful in spring – and reduce the amount of work you need to do to get it that way.

Get on with the heavy jobs

If you’ve been thinking of introducing decorative features such as a dry river bed, a set of steps, a tiled area, a pergola or simply putting decorative pebbles in some of your plant beds, then winter is the ideal time to be getting on with it. In fact, for the sake of your own health, these jobs are better done when the weather is cool, rather than in thirty degree heat. All you need is a dry weekend!

Turf it up!

Don’t believe the common myth that turf shouldn’t be laid in winter. In fact, in winter regular rainfall saves on watering. In temperate climates, most types of turf can be laid at any time of year – and turf laid in winter should be lush and strong by spring.

Prune away!

Winter is the perfect time to prune many trees and bushes, particularly deciduous ones as they are dormant. Wait until all the leaves have gone. Wait a little longer with evergreens – these are best pruned at the end of winter or in early spring. Pruning is a wonderful way to give a tree a boost – it actually improves its health and strength and come spring you will soon see new, denser growth, flowers and fruit.

Master mulch!

Mulch keeps soil cool – which is why it’s fantastic for your garden in summer. It means fewer weeds, less water evaporation and as it breaks down it improves soil structure. Plus it looks good! In winter, however, soil is cool enough. In temperate areas this isn’t really a problem – you can leave your mulch in place and, in fact, towards the end of winter you could get ahead by renewing your mulch, rather than in the rush of spring. In frost-prone areas, however, you may want to consider removing the mulch from around your plants in the cold months.

Keep the simple things going!

Is it too basic to remind you to go out and weed every now and again?! Winter is a slow-growing season, but, in most places, not a no-growing season. Take advantage of milder weekends to go out and pull a few weeds and you will avoid some of the many hours you spend weeding in early spring.

Plan ahead!

If you would like some early season fruit and vegetables, you can start many of these under cover in trays or pots during winter and then plant them out in spring. Others can be planted straight into the garden and left largely to their own devices other than a little weeding every now and then, thanks to winter rain.

The last resort!

And of course, on really rainy cold days, when the last thing you want to do is go outside, there’s nothing like reading a gardening book or weekend gardening supplement and then dozing in a snug armchair, dreaming about the beautiful garden you will have in spring…

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