6 Essential Things to Do in the Garden this Winter

Everything slows down considerably during the winter months, so you get some breathing space to prepare for spring. In this guide, the gardening and allotment specialists at Mantis share their tips for maintaining your garden throughout the cold season.

Protect Your Soil

Now is the perfect time to add a good compost to your soil. There is no need to dig it over: just lay it on the surface and leave it alone, and it will nourish it and safeguard your soil until the spring.

Alternatively, to protect your soil once you have cleared your beds, consider planting some green manure such as rye, buckwheat, crimson clover or alfalfa (The Royal Horticultural Society has more information here). When spring arrives you can then dig this into the soil as it is a great source of nutrients.

Maintain Your Pond

Keep removing debris from your pond, as rotting vegetation can release harmful toxins into the water and clog up filters. Placing a fine net over the surface will help ensure that leaves don’t fall in.
If frost is due, place a ball into your pond — the movement of a floating ball helps prevent the water from freezing. Plants and fish won’t get the necessary oxygen supply if your pond freezes over.

Maintain Your Greenhouse

Give your greenhouse a good clear-out and remove any shading that you put up during the summer. Use a good garden disinfectant such as Jeyes Fluid to wipe down surfaces and clean out seed trays to ensure that any bugs and pests are eradicated.

Look After Garden Tools and Machinery

Frost can exacerbate mechanical problems and contribute to rusting, so you should have your garden tools and machinery cleaned, repaired and serviced before the cold snap. To protect them from moisture and cold temperatures, cover and store in your shed.

Maintain Your Lawn

Before the winter really takes hold, preferably before mid-November, aerate and dethatch the lawn so that it can absorb water and air can get to the roots. This also helps to prevent water pooling on the surface during periods of heavy rainfall. Following aeration and dethatching, feed the lawn with an autumn feed to help the grass survive the winter and encourage growth come spring.

You should also remove fallen leaves throughout the winter months to prevent brown patches from appearing, but don’t just throw them away — fallen leaves make a valuable carbon addition to your compost heap.

Prune Your Plants and Trees

Now that the climbing plants have shed most of their leaves, you will be able to get a good look at your trellis and inspect it for damage or wear and tear. You can then fix it while not running the risk of damaging the plants themselves.

Prune your apple, pear and plum trees when they are dormant between November and March, before the first buds appear. If trees become congested with branches they are less likely to fruit in the following season, so this is really important.

It is also a good idea to get some mulch down around the base to provide the trees with nutrients through the winter. The higher you pile the leaves, the better, as they protect the soil and add vital nutrients to the soil as they decompose.

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