How To Prepare And Protect Your Garden In Winter

Collaborative post by another author. Winter weather can be pretty unpredictable, especially in the UK. Unexpected cold snaps and continuous temperature changes can harm plants in the garden. Cold weather isn't bad for all plants though and some actually benefit from it. However, most plants don't find the cold snaps favourable, and gardeners need to know how much the cold weather can affect the state of their garden and plan ahead to look after their plant life.


A stock image from canva pro of gardening tools in soil

So, here are a few steps to help protect your plants and minimise the effect of winter damage in your garden.


Add A Thick Layer of Mulch

Mulch is more like a blanket used to protect the garden during winter. A typical winter crisis is pulling out soil affected by the freeze-thaw cycles. Pulling out soil can push shallow-rooted plants like heucherella and gaillardia from the ground and expose them to freezing temperatures. 

Mulch helps keep soil constantly cold, protecting it from the disastrous freeze-thaw cycles. Additionally, they help the soil retain enough moisture and provide insulation for plants.

Chopped leaves, pine and straw are all possible mulch for winter applications.

Winter Watering

Watering your garden may seem pointless during the winter, as most plants become dormant then. However, there are many reasons to provide enough irrigation during winter. Most evergreen trees and shrubs lose an incredible amount of water during cold and dry weather. Unless there's rainfall, these plants need supplementary irrigation at least once a month during winter to keep the soil moist.

Even the dormant plants function well following winter watering, as moist soils hold more heat than dry soils. So, the extent of damage to the plant's roots during the winter increases if the soil is dry. Don't forget to water the plants in containers, as they tend to dry out faster than plants in other parts of the garden.

Safeguard Sensitive Trees

Trees with thin bark, especially young trees, will benefit from using a tree wrap around the bark to protect it from a condition called sunscald. This form of damage is a result of warmer temperatures than can occur on some days encouraging some of the tree under the bark to grow, creating cracks which can put them at risk of disease and insect damage. So, wrap young or thin-barked trees with protective material to prevent winter sunscald. The tree wraps should be removed in spring to avoid any form of damage to the tree.

Also, young or newly planted trees need stabilisation, and staking them is a great way to stabilise them for the winter. To know if staking is necessary, gently shake the tree from side to side. If you can see the rootball moving, stake the tree for winter. Garden sheds can also be constructed to store sensitive container plants.

Carry Out General Maintenance

Most garden sheds and outbuildings need some maintenance and repair before winter. It is essential that you ensure your garden shed is in the best condition for the new season. Fix loose or bad boards and ensure that the door hinges are in good condition to eliminate draughts. Alternatively, you can check out Buy Sheds Direct here to get a brand-new garden shed to better prepare for the season.

You should also clean, sharpen, and oil gardening tools like blades, which must have become dull and ineffective after being used throughout the season. Do not forget to wash pots, seed trays, and other garden equipment to prevent the spread of mould before storing them.

Burn Waste to Produce Ash

Garden waste that cannot be composted or put to other use could be burned to ash. This ash is valuable in helping you eliminate weeds, diseases, and woody material. Wood ash contains potassium, a vital nutrient for crops, unlike coal ash. It is an excellent supplement for fruiting plants such as tomatoes, apples, and raspberries. However, endeavour to use a small amount of ash on your soil as ash contains alkali. 

Clear Up Old Plant Matter

While preparing your garden for winter, it is best you tackle perennial weeds and plants that are prolific spreaders. Take care to remove as many stems and roots of these weeds as you can. Pulling them out weakens the plants and makes them more susceptible to winter. It can be tempting to leave the dead plants lying there when done. However, clearing and burning perennial weeds is better than leaving them.

Prepare Your Soil

Now is the time to dig over the soil and incorporate organic matter such as manure, compost, and fertiliser in preparation for spring planting. Doing this now makes it easy for the soil to break down the organic matter and improve its structure and drainage. Oriental leaves, brassicas, or some root vegetables are likely to grow through the winter, so it is best to check the netting and install protection if necessary.

Conclusion

It can be very tempting to just retreat to the warmth of the house at the end of the growing season. However, preparing ahead by tackling some of these gardening tasks will give you a head start for next season and improve your yield, so get started now.

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