Winter-proofing your garden

winter gardening

For those of us who live in a non-tropical setting, winter can wreak havoc on our lawn furniture, gardens, and sense of purpose. Oh no! Is it really that serious? For those garden lovers who live to be outdoors either gardening or enjoying their patio with a lemonade and book in hand, it can be serious indeed.

Gardens, patios and even small outdoor spaces provide us with a sanctuary – we relax, entertain, and battle with weeds. Late Autumn means wrapping up the gardening season, as the last tomatoes fall off the vines, and tired ladybugs crawl into the crevasses and piles of dead leaves for a long winters’ sleep.

Opposite of spring cleaning – fall cleaning is about to commence. If you’re not planning on doing it, you definitely should. Giving your garden a pre-Winter deep cleanse will make your spring ten times more enjoyable. So it’s time to roll up your sleeves, get the paint out, prepare the brooms, prep your compost pile and even hire a scaffold tower for those hard-to-get-to jobs.

Here is a small list of what you should be planning on doing when the leaves start to fall.

Clean where you can’t see

This is where the scaffold tower comes in – you thought we were kidding! Or, a really good ladder. After the leaves fall, your gutters will be clogged – and we don’t mean your house gutters either. This is a crucial time to clean any patio roofs or greenhouse roof and gutter systems that you have in your garden. It’s often when you notice damage that you weren’t able to see in the season, and make repairs before the winter comes.

Rake the leaves – but not too much!

While raking is an essential part of the Fall – don’t go into a cleaning frenzy if you can. If you have an unused corner or spare room in your, make a pile of leaves and don’t disturb it until spring.

You can add it to the compost pile. Why? Small rodents and hedgehogs love to hibernate in such piles. It’s an important part of their ecosystem that has been disappearing with the advent of perfectly manicured lawns. If you live in an area that hedgehogs call home, think about the little guys!

Conserve your lawn furniture

When we don’t have a shed (best storage option!) we have to make do. While covering lawn furniture with a cover might be enough, if you have wooden chairs and tables, now might be a good idea to give them a once over with paint or varnish, to keep the moisture from getting at them.

Get rid of clutter

Ah, the piles of used plastic planting pots that pile up in a dusty, earth covered mound in undisclosed locations around your garden. We know they’re there. You can recycle those, you know? Or at least donate them, put them all up on Craigslist for a price of one soy latte, or put them neatly away so you can sow some seeds come Spring.

Winterize your garden tools

If you do this, we guarantee you’re going to start Spring chores with pleasure. Because it feels good to pick up a tool that is clean, well cared for and ready to go. To do this, you have to clean them – rinse all the dirt off, and dry them with a rag to prevent rust. Sharpen any dull tools, and get rid of any spots that may have begun to rust with steel wool, and wipe them off again. In order to prevent further rust, any grease will do, even canola oil or crisco.

Plant bulbs

Don’t forget to do some last minute gardening – this is especially rewarding in the spring. Bulbs like tulips, daffodils and snowdrops will be the first flowers to rear their heads and welcome you into the garden! Set the atmosphere for Spring right now!

Plant Evergreens

If you think your garden looks sad in the winter months, make it winter-friendly. There are some beautiful shrubs that will give a winter wonderland feel to any garden, yard or balcony. Some of the most amazing ones that we recommend are:

  • Blue Holly has amazing red berries, green leaves and can be used to make ornaments, bouquets and wreaths.
  • Camelias – not only are their leaves evergreen but they bloom when nothing else does.
  • Juniper – these are evergreens that you can harvest for Juniper berries and add some home grown flavor to your spice cabinet
  • Fir – you can decorate firs with Christmas lights and make your outdoor space cozy and warm this holiday season. Firs produce beautiful cones that are great for decorating and almost blue in color.
  • Mahonia – this shrub has leaves reminiscent of Holly, but it blooms in brilliant yellows very early in the spring. During the Autumn Mahonia produces dark purple berries, which aren’t poisonous – but not very good.

Remember, This Too Shall Pass

Garden languish and melancholy sets in this time of year. Keep yourself busy with tasks that will prepare you for the Spring ahead – remember that it’s coming sooner than you think!