Some people might stay out of the garden in the winter months, only heading into their home’s outdoor space when the temperatures start to rise. But, did you know that there are plenty of things to do in the garden over the colder months? You could start integrating your ericaceous compost into your soil for those plants that don’t grow well in alkaline soil and care for the wildlife that stumble across your back garden. Read on as we investigate how else you can get prepared for spring:
How to get your soil ready
As temperatures drop, activity amongst animals and plants comes to a gradual halt. This can be beneficial for young seedlings, as pests are less likely to hinder their growth. The cold can damage your soil too, draining some of its nutrients. There are some things that you can do though to prepare your garden for the season ahead.
If you want to keep your soil protected from the freeze or frosty periods, mulching can be a good idea. Wood chips are a good choice for this, as they protect the soil from the harsh conditions that come with the colder months. Avoid de-weeding if you can too. Some of the common garden weeds often form layers over the soil that helps protect it from erosion.
There are some things that you can do to keep your green areas looking good too. Remove debris and dew from your lawn on a regular basis, as this encourages growth and avoids disease. Try to stay off the grass in frosty or frozen conditions as well — this can cause long-term damage to the lawn and result in unsightly dead patches. Be sure to also apply soluble iron in order to provide some colour and winter hardiness over the colder months — avoid doing this when the grass is frozen though.
What can grow?
Did you know that there are still a range of plants that can grow in the colder temperatures?
Antirrhinums (aka snapdragons) can survive the cold — plant them around February time for some early blooms. They can be grown in a range of colours and can brighten up your wintery garden before other plants begin to bloom. Star-shaped flowers, Laurentia, can also be planted now as they are resistant against a slightly colder climate. Expect these to add a pop of blue, pink or white to your yard when they flower.
If you’re a greenhouse owner, the cold shouldn’t deter you from planting. You can sow sweet peas in a greenhouse, cold frame or cool place indoors, for example, and they should grow with no issues.
Leeks need a long growing season, so set them off in winter under cover. Hardy broad beans are relatively resistant to the cold too and can be grown outdoors. As long as the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged, raspberry canes and blackberries can be planted and will grow successfully.
Take care of the fauna
Make your garden habitable for animals during winter. If wildlife visit your back yard in the colder months, it’s likely that they’ll return through the spring and summer too. Wildlife such as insects can help with pollination, while larger animals can eliminate the pests that hinder plant growth.
Help birds maintain their energy levels too. Fatty foods can help with this — leave fat blocks packed full of fruit seeds and dried mealworms out in wire cages for birds to snack on.
Don’t overdo it on tidying in winter though. Instead, create a hub for hedgehogs and small animals, as they feed off the scarce flowers and berries. Many animals take shelter in leaf litter too, as it protects them from the lower temperatures.
Some animals can be prone to dehydrating through winter, as their water sources can become frozen. Just be sure to leave pebbles in the water so that smaller animals and insects can take a drink without fear of falling in the water.
There’s lots to do before the weather warms up! Getting preparation in early can help your crop grow successfully through the warmer months, keep your lawn looking in top condition and add some colour to your back yard through early bloomers.