Posted 7th Sep 2015
Preparing your garden for winter is essential. Award-winning garden designer and founder of Garden Club London, Tony Woods, shares his top five dos and don’ts for your garden this autumn
DO: Examine your lawn
It’s the perfect season to examine your lawn for signs of wear and tear which might have happened throughout the summer, and treating it before the cold sets in and the grass stops growing.
DON’T: Forget to aerate your lawn
To stop waterlogging in the winter months make sure you aerate (spike) your lawn every two to three years. This will help with regulating better air movement and water to the grass roots. Simply spike problem areas with a garden fork, spacing holes 10-15cm apart and making them as deep as you can.
DO: Create a habitat for wildlife
The winter months can be hard on wild creatures, so create a haven for them by providing clean water, shelter and a place to raise their young. If you don’t have a pond you can set up a bird bath directly on the ground so all types of animals can use it. Create shelter and a place to raise their young with log piles and evergreen shrubs such as holly.
DON’T: Use un-environmentally friendly fertilisers
Don’t use un-environmentally friendly fertilisers on areas in your garden; not only are they dangerous to wildlife, they are also harmful to pets and humans.
Autumn is the time to prune, trim and prepare the garden for next year, but what should you do with all the debris? Simple – compost. Creating your own composting area can be done really easily by setting aside a small area of the garden and buying an inexpensive ready-made composting bin. Once installed it’s a great place to put your garden (and even some of your kitchen) waste. As a rule of thumb, good compost is a balance of vegetable peelings, grass clippings, wood prunings, paper and other garden waste.
DON’T: Forget to insulate with mulch
Use all your lovely homemade mulch from your compost to insulate your autumn starters. Use sparingly, creating a thick layer of winter mulch throughout your entire garden, covering each bed in several inches. It will help return those much-needed nutrients into the ground and help prepare the soil for any spring flowering bulbs.
DO: Rebuild and restructure
Now is the perfect time to make architectural changes to your flower beds. Spend some time rebuilding beds or constructing box frames to prepare for the next season.
DON’T: Forget to maintain your tools
Before you store your lawn mower at the back of the shed, it's well worth sending it for a service to ensure that it's in tip top condition for next spring. Oil and sharpen shears and secateurs before storing them and make sure spades, forks and other tools are washed and dried thoroughly to prevent rust.
DO: Plant bulbs for spring
Spring may feel like a lifetime away but now is the time to start planting for a blossoming spring garden. Daffodils and hyacinths should be put to bed by the end of September, along with hardy summer flowering bulbs including lilies and alliums.
DON’T: Ignore damaged plants
As the frost starts to set in make sure you check for and dispose of frost-damaged plants, which you can add to your compost heap. Also check for any bugs or disease-damaged plants – if you find any make sure you dispose of these by pulling the whole plant from the ground (along with the roots) and wrapping into a plastic bag throwing it away. This will ensure that none of your other plants get infected.
By Tony Woods