Most gardeners dread the winter months when there is less work to do in the garden. However, this doesn’t have to be the case! It’s true that there are fewer things you can grow during the wintertime, however, you can still create a beautiful outdoor space with colourful winter plants, winter vegetables and winter flowering plants. It’s just a case of preparing your outdoor space properly and choosing the right plants - and it’s not as hard as you might think!

In this guide, we’ve put together our best tips for cultivating a beautiful garden this winter. We’ve included tips on the best gardening tasks to complete in the winter, which plants and vegetables you can grow as well as some tips on protecting wildlife during the colder months.

When Should I Start My Winter Garden?

The best time to start your winter garden will be sometime in the late summer or autumn-time. The main issue with the winter months for gardening is the frost and lack of sunlight. To overcome this, choose seeds and plants that require little sunlight and plant your seeds between 6-8 weeks before the first date that the ground usually frosts over. This should give your plants plenty of time to grow. Do some planning as to the crops you’re going to try and grow, and try to pick a wider range to increase your chances of success!

Gardening Tasks That You Should Do in the Wintertime

Rake fallen leaves

Rake any fallen leaves from your garden pathways and from your lawn to allow it to breathe. A layer of fallen leaves can cause issues for your lawn, inviting pests and diseases as well as blocking the air-flow and nutrients from getting to the roots of your grass. For these reasons, it’s best to try and keep on top of raking the leaves throughout the winter season. When you have raked the leaves, don’t throw them away! These can be used to create mulch for your soil.

Prepare the soil

Spring is typically one of the busiest seasons for gardeners, with lots of things to plant and tend to and you can set yourself up for a great gardening season by taking care of your soil in the winter. Healthy soil is key if you’re hoping to grow healthy crops, and there are a few ways you can improve its quality to encourage plant growth and health. Remove leaves and debris from flower beds and borders and de-weed the soil. Dig and turn the soil to loosen the texture, creating a better environment for roots to grow and spread into the ground.

Add mulch to your soil

There are many benefits to mulching, from improving the moisture retention of your soil to suppressing the growth of weeds and improving the soil’s organic matter. In the winter months, add a thick layer of mulch to the surface of your soil to feed and warm the soil, protecting your plants from the harsh conditions of winter. Mulch will keep your soil at a steady temperature and help any dormant plants to survive through the winter so that they can grow through in the springtime. You can create a winter mulch from shredded leaves, straw or pine needles. You will need to remove the mulch in the springtime, so ideally choose a material that will be easy to rake aside once winter is past.

Take care of your lawn

The abrasive conditions of winter can be harsh on your lawn. There are a few things you can do to keep it happy and healthy during the winter season. Only mow your lawn if absolutely necessary and do not mow your grass if it is wet or has frozen over. Try and keep off the grass as much as possible to reduce the amount of damage that the grass takes over the season. Make sure you’re regularly raking any leaves from the lawn’s surface too. Apply a fertilizer across the surface of the grass, to help strengthen it for the tougher season. You can also aerate the lawn too, by using a spade to make holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grassroots.

Cover newly planted trees and shrubs

The frost and cold can be harsh on plants, so any shrubs in your garden that are growing in garden pots will need to be covered up or moved indoors. Wrap your potted plants in bubble wrap or hessian sacking fabric and secure in place, to provide a thick layer of insulation that will prevent the roots from freezing. If you have any delicate plants, tender succulents or hanging baskets take them indoors away from the frost. Ideally, keep these plants into a sunny location such as a greenhouse, conservatory or south-facing window.

Prepare your tools

During the winter season when there is less intensive work to do in the garden, provides a great opportunity to clean and prepare your gardening tools for the next year. Give your garden tools a thorough clean with a coarse brush and soapy warm water. Then, shrub your tools with an oiled rag using either motor oil or vegetable oil. This will help to seal the metal and improve the longevity of your tools.

Vegetables You Can Plant in Your Garden Over the Winter

Growing vegetables is a very rewarding process and one of the best ways to extend the gardening season into the winter months. If you were very organised during the spring and summer months, you might have planted some vegetables such as winter cabbages, kale and Brussels sprouts that will be ready to harvest this winter. However, this isn’t the case, don’t panic. There are plenty of vegetable plants that are hardy and can be sown in the winter, to be harvested during the following year.

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