As a gardening professional, the question I probably get asked the most is “What do you do in winter when you’re not gardening?”
I suppose to a lot of people, the fact that lawns don’t need mowing and shrubs aren’t growing wild, could give the impression that there isn’t much to do in winter.
But in truth, winter is actually a great time to get some of the jobs done that you may struggle to do at any other time of the year, so lets take a look at some of the things that can keep gardeners busy in winter.
I’m based on the South coast, so some of these jobs won’t be relevant to those living further north, where the weather might be colder.
Garden Clearance / Tidy Up
The traditional “gardeners diary” of 30 or so years ago, really doesn’t apply any more. Even in late autumn and early winter, we can have temperatures well into double figures. The growing season is now 30-40 days longer than it once was, meaning that we can be well into winter before the final leaves have fallen from the trees and growth slows right down.
Clearing leaves, branches and debris from your lawns and borders is a great winter job. As is removing Ivy and brambles from your hedges and shrub areas. I do lots of winter tidy ups and quite often you are clearing out the old, whilst looking at the new bulb shoots popping up ready for the following year.
If the ground is soft and not frozen, it can also be a good time to re-edge flower beds and borders and clear them of weeds and any other non desired debris.
There is something very satisfying about having a clear and tidy garden in winter. So, if you get some time, get out and have a bit of a clear out, rather than waiting until spring.
Most bulbs can be planted pretty much any time from September through to December. Many of you would have already done this job but if you haven’t, it’s a great time to pick up some cheap, later flowering bulbs and get them in the ground. Most are usually on offer, so you can get more for your money. Obviously early flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, should be planted prior to December but there are plenty that can be. Check the packets for planting times.
Winter is a great time for pruning those fruit trees, shrubs, roses and deciduous hedges like beech hedge. As previously mentioned, it is also the best time to remove ivy and brambles from beech hedges and similar hedges as getting access to the inside of the hedge is much easier. Wisteria can also benefit from a bit of a late prune.
Many people would think that lawns would be best laid in the summer. But in truth, laying turf in the height of the growing season can prove problematic. What you don’t want is for the grass to actually grow too quickly, you want the grass to root before it actually gets too long. Clearing the area and getting it prepped in early January in readiness for laying the new turf sometime late January or early February, should be about right.
Planning new areas, structures and landscaping projects are another part of the gardeners winter diary. It may be that an area of you garden is suddenly very bare and desolate, where all of the summer plants have gone and there is nothing there for any colour in the winter. It might be you want to create a new flower bed or border and with everything cut back and dormant, it’s much easier to plan size, shape etc.
One good idea is to take photographs of you garden each month of the year. You can then look at those photos and try to plan ahead to make improvements for the following year. Winter is a great time to plan these projects, even if they are a couple of months away, because once the spring comes, you’ll be busy enough just keeping on top of everything.
From repairing pergolas to sorting leaks in your greenhouse, winter is a good time to get those jobs done that you promised yourself you were going to do back in the summer. In fact, subject to the weather, there’s actually no reason why you can’t erect some new structures, ready for the coming spring. Any job you can do now, rather than get saddled with when you have better things to do, is worth putting some time into.
Gardens can now be enjoyed all year round. Even if you don’t spend much time there, why let it go to pot and get untidy and have to struggle to get it up to scratch later in the year.
A couple of hours every couple of weeks or a day here and a day there, can really make a difference.
Brave the cold and enjoy 🙂