Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:25 pm
If you are still in the middle of the busy planting season by the end of November, you should not forget that you should also prepare your garden for winter in good time. This includes, among other things, arming frost-sensitive plants, beds and lawns or even garden tools against the cold, damp weather. We explain everything you need to know about this.
Leaves and twigs can serve as winter protection in some places in the garden, for example on flower beds. Other plant debris, however, can also cause problems in the wrong place. Lawns in particular should be free of leaves. Otherwise, in damp weather, it could rot under the layer of leaves or a mould could spread.
Care should also be taken with fallen fruit, both on the lawn and in the beds. Otherwise pests will be attracted, which will then even overwinter until spring. So-called fruit mummies, i.e. unharvested or fallen fruit, must also be removed from fruit trees. This is because these are also entry doors for fungal diseases.
Pruning can help make the garden winter-proof
Collecting leaves and fallen fruit is not the only way to prevent rot. While you are preparing your garden for winter, pruning here and there can also be useful. It is important to remove diseased shoots from any plants generously with sharp, clean scissors.
Do not cut back roses too much, for example, as their shoots often freeze back even further over the winter. Withered perennials can also be left standing. These form a natural cold buffer.
The lawn needs its final pruning before winter. The right length is crucial – about four centimetres is ideal. If the blades are too long, fungal diseases can easily thrive under snowfall; if the blades are too short, the lawn is more sensitive to sunlight. For the same reason, it makes sense to prune evergreen hedges.
Winterise the garden: Prepare cold-sensitive plants
Not all plants are cold- and frost-resistant. Some because they originate from warmer regions; others because they are still young or have just been planted and have not yet been able to develop sufficient roots. You should pay special attention to these plants and take precautions before the first frost.
Wrap up potted plants
Of course, when preparing the garden for winter, it is also important to pack away Mediterranean tub plants such as citrus plants, oleanders and others. But even tub plants that are actually hardy, especially evergreens, are more susceptible to frost in the tub than when planted out, as their root balls are more exposed. They should therefore be placed against a protected house wall over the winter. The pot can also be wrapped with jute or bubble wrap and placed on polystyrene sheets for insulation.
Supporting trees & shrubs
Many young woody plants need winter protection in the first few years. The bark can crack due to rapid temperature changes between night frost and strong sun. A so-called lime paint brings white colour to the trunk and reflects the sun’s rays. To shield the often sensitive grafting of freshly planted fruit trees, simply heap on a little soil.
Mounding is also useful for roses. Young specimens are particularly sensitive in the first few years. The shoots of particularly delicate roses can also be wrapped above ground – for example with jute.
Only natural and air-permeable material should be used to wrap plants. No air exchange can take place under plastic tarpaulins and as a result the accumulation of moisture promotes mould and other fungal infestations.
Keep grasses dry
Some ornamental grasses are sensitive to the often prolonged wetness in winter. Especially the lower parts of the blades should remain as dry as possible. Therefore, do not cut off withered grasses in autumn, but tie the tips loosely together with jute twine. This protects the lower part of the plant from the cold and ensures that water runs off to the sides.
Winterising the garden also means protecting bare soil.
Whole vegetable or perennial beds can easily be protected by loosely spread leaves or brushwood. But even if you want to leave an empty vegetable bed or a freshly dug-up area over the winter, you should think about the unprotected garden soil. To minimise drying out and erosion, cover such areas with straw, mulch or leaves. The organic material also releases nutrients into the soil.
Important to know: Unless you are dealing with particularly heavy soil in your garden, you do not need to dig it up. Regular turning and redistribution of the soil layers will harm the valuable soil life in the long run.
Tidy up garden tools
Last but not least, winter protection is not only for sensitive plants; the approaching frost is not good for many garden tools either. Especially when water freezes and expands, problems can arise. Rain barrels and watering devices can crack, water pipes and pond pumps burst. Therefore: Empty the rain barrels, turn off the water and let the remaining water drain out of the pipes.