Autumn’s arrived: now’s the time to winter-proof your garden
There are several things you can do in autumn to make your garden winter-proof. Here we show you how you can ensure it’s blooming and green come spring.
Tend to your lawn
Before the cold sets in, you should tend to your lawn to make sure it grows even greener next year.
You can take advantage of the mild temperatures and mow your lawn throughout autumn. With proper maintenance and by keeping it an even length, it will continue to grow slowly over winter – provided the temperature doesn’t drop below 4°C. Make sure you don’t cut the grass too short or the lawn could soon be overgrown with moss. Unfortunately, moss isn’t bothered by the cold; it will continue to grow vigorously even below 4°C.
Fertiliser can be used in spring to stimulate grass growth, while in autumn a special fertiliser with potassium can help to strengthen your lawn and reduce frost damage.
For older lawns which are prone to moss growth, it’s worth scarifying in autumn too (as well as in spring). Don’t start the work too late – ideally it should be done in September or early October – and definitely don’t scarify in temperatures below 4°C. This will give your lawn time to recover in mild temperatures and with regular watering, before winter sets in.
In the winter, your lawn needs as much air and light as possible. That’s why you should regularly rake up all leaves and broken twigs, or remove them with a leaf blower or garden vac, to prevent these from decaying on your lawn. Alternatively, you can gather together the leaves using a Bosch lawn mower with a LeafCollect function.
In the right places, leaves can help to protect your garden in winter
To avoid having to rake leaves every other day, it’s best to wait until the first frost in autumn – after that, many leaves will fall from the trees. Whilst you should regularly rake your lawn, you can leave the foliage on your flowerbeds or under trees. And if you want to avoid having to rake your lawn too often, you can simply use a leaf blower to push the leaves onto the flowerbeds or beneath trees. By providing the plants with a natural mulch, you’ll be helping to protect them against the cold.
You can gather leaves or small twigs/branches that no longer fit on the compost heap in a separate pile. Hedgehogs will appreciate the shelter during the winter.
You should also remove any leaves from your gutter to prevent any blockages from rain or melting snow. This is easily done with a high-pressure washer.
Prune back trees, shrubs and hedges
In general, all garden plants should be pruned or trimmed in mild autumn temperatures. Doing it on cold, frosty days could cause them harm. Autumn is a quiet period for trees: they have lost all their leaves and aren’t yet in bloom – so it’s the perfect time for some light pruning.
To avoid damaging a tree, it’s essential to use the right tools. Garden shears work best on thin branches; cordless shears are even more convenient and a great help if you don’t have the strength to tackle larger branches. Pruning shears are suitable for more sturdy branches, while you can cut thick branches cleanly with a saw.
Shrubs don’t have to be pruned back in autumn, otherwise your flowerbeds would look a bit empty. But it does no harm to prune shrubs or bushes that have grown too large or are dying.
Prepare your plants for the winter
When it comes to preparing for winter, you should handle hardy and non-hardy flowers and plants differently: some plants can remain out in the garden in frosty temperatures; these are hardy plants and include rhododendron, Christmas roses and heather. Non-hardy plants, such as geraniums or hibiscus, should be brought inside before the first frost. Most non-hardy plants should ideally be moved to a cool, dark place, such as the cellar or basement. Plants that need a lot of light should be placed by the window.
Whether or not a plant is hardy largely depends on where it’s from: for example, if you keep Mediterranean plants, which may have been considered hardy in their original environment, the winters in Germany may still be too cold or wet for them – so it’s best to bring them indoors.
How to prepare your plants for winter:
Plants that can’t stay out in the garden over winter should be brought inside. To protect hardy potted plants against exceptionally cold temperatures, you can wrap the pots in fleece or bubble wrap.
It’s best to cover your flower or plant beds with leaves or horticultural fleece in autumn. You could also build a plant protector or cover to keep out the wind and snow. If you want your flowerbeds to be full of blooming tulips or daffodils in spring, plant the bulbs in autumn.
Most shrubs are perennial and hardy. Their roots generally survive winter well, with only the upper parts dying and then growing back in spring. Shrubs don’t really need any extra care in winter, except for a little water every now and again.