There’s something magical about a frost-tipped winter garden – but your plants and outdoor furniture might not think as much. Cold, wet, windy winter weather can damage trees, plants, garden structures and furniture, leaving your garden forlorn and bedraggled for the rest of the year. Read on for our top 10 tips for beating the big chill…
1 The key is to protect your plants before the first frosts of winter strike, otherwise you are in danger of frost-bitten leaves and rotten roots. Evergreens and outdoor potted plants are at particular risk and even hardy plants in cold or exposed areas. Keep an eye on weather reports and be prepared should be your motto!
2 At the first signs of frost, protect outdoor potted plants by wrapping them in bubble wrap, straw or Hessian (a little more easy on the eye). Group containers together for mutual protection and locate near a sheltered wall away from sharp winds. And do ensure your terracotta pots are truly frost proof by checking if they are labelled frost resistant. Remember, you can always bring smaller pots indoors, space permitting.
3 For good general protection of your garden, apply a layer of bark compost or mulch (experts recommend around 5cm deep) around herbaceous perennials but use grit around the plants. This will stop moisture collecting and rotting the stems while the mulch will keep them warm much like a blanket. And don’t forget the mulch will also help by breaking down over the winter months, adding organic matter to the soil and improving drainage.
4 While we’re on the subject of mulch, make the most of fallen leaves by heaping them up in a pile and make a chicken-wire frame container to put them in. They will rot down to make a great, money-saving mulch for the spring.
5 Even if you do take all the steps to safeguard your plants and trees over the winter months, it’s wise to take cuttings just in case plants don’t survive. Call it your winter insurance policy if you will!
6 The trunks of tree ferns should be wrapped in chicken wire with space to fill with a thick layer of straw. Leave the fronds free and simply cut off anything that’s turned brown in spring and watch the new ones grow once the weather warms up.
7 This might sound like bah humbug to younger members of the family, but if we do happen to get a white winter this year, it’s a good idea to shake off any excess snow that sits on hedges and the tops of trees. This will minimise snow damage and prevent branches from getting too heavy.
8 If you haven’t done so already, check that all garden structures are secure and safely in position and if necessary replace or re-attach loose panels, roofs, posts and fencing. Change a solid fence for a living or artificial windbreak which is 50% wind permeable (panels of woven hazel or willow are a good option) which filter and drain rather than contain the wind.
9 Your garden furniture can also take a battering during the winter months if you don’t take the proper steps now. The first job is to prepare your tables and chairs for storage with a good clean otherwise damp, dirty furniture left for months unused can end up covered in mould. A simple soap and water solution is perfect for wicker, wrought iron and plastic but you may need a specialist cleaner for teak and other woods. Finish off with a suitable protective coating, sealant or wax depending on the material and for extra protection invest in a set of hard wearing furniture covers.
10 Bring in outdoor cushions even if they are meant to be tough and totally weatherproof and if stained, scrub gently with a mild disinfectant solution or warm soapy water. If they are removable and machine washable, even better.
What are your top tips for protecting the garden and other outside spaces over the cold, winter season ahead? comment below we would love to know !!! 🙂 and if you enjoyed the article please share on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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