Alas, the best of the weather has been had for the year and autumn is now in full flow, sweeping us through into winter. Tempting though it may be to batten down the hatches, turn your central heating on to continuous and wait until next spring before venturing out into your garden, there are still plenty of jobs to be getting on with. And research shows that a spot of gardening, even on a cold, gloomy day, will lift your spirits and warm you up. It will also help burn up the extra calories in which we are all tempted to indulge during the winter months!
1. Keep on raking
There are still plenty of leaves on the trees, just waiting to settle on your lawn and trap in moisture, which the moss will love. So keep on raking, little and often, perhaps making a pile in an out of sight corner, to give your garden’s mini-beast population a winter haven and the ground feeding birdlife a place to forage.
2. Clean the garden path and patio
Once the bulk of the leaves are down, give hard garden surfaces a good old fashioned sweep with a stiff bristled broom to clear the last of the leaves and weeds, the moss and the lichen.
3. Repair your fences
And any hardscape items such as sheds, trellises, arbours and decking. Remove and clean your perennial plant supports ready for next year’s growth.
4. Watch out for frost
Keep an eye on the weather forecast and protect fragile shrubs and herbs with a gardening fleece or an old, light blanket when heavy frosts are threatened.
5. Dig over beds that you wish to plant in early spring
A job for sooner, rather than later, before the frosts set the ground too hard. No need to break down the clods of soil too much as the frost will do the hard work for you.
6. Get your lawn mower serviced
Along with any other mechanical gardening equipment that has served you through the prolonged growing season we have enjoyed this year. Clean and sharpen your manual tools, perhaps even treating your wooden handles to a linseed oil massage.
7. Take hardwood cuttings
A wide range of deciduous shrubs and trees (including fruit trees and grape vines) and climbing plants (such as roses and clematis) are now entering their dormant season which is the time to be taking cuttings. It’s the economically and environmentally smart way to propagate your garden favourites, and it’s easy.
8. Plant trees
As they enter dormancy, winter is the best time of year to plant deciduous trees and bare rooted roses, giving them a chance to get established during the wet winter months, without having to worry about watering them.
9. Don’t forget the birds
Try and provide a wide range of bird food, in a variety of feeders, to support as many species as possible during the harsh winter weather. Pop a floating ball in your bird bath to prevent the water freezing over in all but the coldest of snaps.
10. Indulge in some armchair gardening
When all the hard work is done and your muscles are feeling nicely warmed, cup your cold fingers around a steaming mug of tea and curl up in your Garden Escape. Watch the birds enjoy their feast and browse through your gardening books and seed catalogues, planning for the spring. Have a slice of cake while you’re at it….you’ve earned it!