Prep your winter garden
Summer is often seen as being the toughest time on your garden, but it’s winter that can actually be the worst.
Apart from the obvious problems such as frigid temperatures and lower levels of sunlight, it’s not unusual for your garden to be more than a bit stressed after an arduous hot season.
This means your plants are going to be more susceptible to damage from the seasonal conditions.
But there are a few simple things you can do now to winter-proof your garden, which will have it looking great until spring.
A big question people tend to ask at this time of year is whether it’s okay to feed their plants.
The answer is yes, but it’s important to be selective with the products that are used.
At any time, when done properly, feeding plants is a two-part process.
The first part is nurturing the soil, looking after all of the good bacteria and creatures such as earthworms, which build quality soil while helping make nutrients for your plants.
The second is applying nutrients in a way that allows plants to make the most of them.
The metabolic rate of most plants slows as they go into winter hibernation, so choosing the correct product is all the more critical.
Liquid products are the best choice for this time of year, as they can be absorbed through foliage and become more readily available in the soil.
The easiest way to apply them is as a pre-mixed hose-on product.
You may think weeds are a problem only in warm weather, but many species can grow well in the colder months.
And some will positively thrive, as they are cool-season annuals.
So beat weeds now and you won’t be faced with a major task in spring.
In cold weather, mulch performs one of its most important roles of insulating soil against temperature extremes, which helps protect plant roots from freezing conditions.
Across the warmer months, mulch can break down very quickly, so by this time of year, the layer may be getting thin and will need topping up.
The cooler months can be surprisingly dry, especially when you add windy conditions to the mix, when moisture can be quickly sucked from the soil.
Making sure your garden is well mulched is essential, but you may also need to water occasionally.
Check first by pulling back mulch and feeling the soil to see if it’s damp or dry.
Apply half as much water as you would in summer, as the soil and mulch will stay damp for longer.
If you have a watering system, adjust it to suit the conditions.
If you watered twice a week in warm weather, once every two weeks should suffice.
Frosts can arrive early, late or not at all, so check weather reports and protect sensitive plants with frost cloth when they’re forecast.
At this time of year, leaves can build up on surfaces and end up as a slippery mess, so ensure you keep pathways and decks blown or swept clean.