Although the temperature is beginning to cool, and the sunlight is starting to fade, there’s no need to forget about your garden maintenance until the New Year. Guest blogger Emily Wilson offers quintessential garden ideas, as well as some informative advice on how to maintain and transform your garden over the winter months.
You may think that this later part of the year means cutting and clearing away dead plants and leaves, making for a dreary and deserted landscape. But it needn’t be! There are plenty of things you can do to put some life and colour into your outdoor spaces.
Planting violas, winter-flowering pansies and forget-me-nots now will be certain to add a bit of colour throughout the coming months. You may also wish to fill any empty pots or beds with winter vegetable seeds, such as onions and shallots, garlic, peas and asparagus, to name but a few.
If you still have certain flora that have decided to stick around for a little while longer, it may be time to cut them down. When shrubs begin to yellow and their stems wilt, it’s a sign that they are drawing their sap back into their roots. If they are not cut down during this period of time, they may decay.
On the other hand, if they look like they’re going to brave the coming cold, you may decide to leave them be. Left to their own devices, some plants continue to grow through the winter, giving your garden a bit of wild character.
Dead leaves can lead to a pristine lawn’s demise if not dealt with quickly. With limited and weak sunshine already partially affecting the growth of grass, having light blocked by ground leaves is going to make things worse. Consistently clear these leaves to avoid dry, brown patches and moss growth, whilst contributing to your compost or mulch heap(s).
We suggest, if you don’t already own one, investing in a lawn mower that can be height adjusted, (self-propelled petrol mowers make for the easiest mowing) as different lengths of grass at different times of the year can produce different results. For these particular cooler months, cutting your grass no shorter than 5cm means it can make better use of the available sunlight, ensuring better resistance against weeds and moss.
We also recommend using an autumn fertiliser. These fertilisers contain higher amounts of potassium, which can protect grass against frost by giving it extra strength. The low nitrogen content doesn’t allow the grass to grow too quickly, as this would make it more defenceless in those frosty winter mornings.
The sun may have gone, and with it the heat, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors in the evenings. There are plenty of garden additions that can create a warming atmosphere.
Investing in some decorative gel burners can light up your patios or decking areas without obtrusive odours or smoke. You may also wish to get yourself some hanging hurricane lamps which can offer a cheap portable light source, regardless of the weather, if you fancied a late-night stroll.
As an added practical attraction, why not buy a centrepiece heat source? Fire-bowls can offer the functional beauty of an open fire with the added benefit of giving you something you can toast some snacks on.
For something more rustic and artsy looking, you may prefer a clay chiminea to heat up your garden. More suited to a breezy garden than a fire-bowl, it also offers convenience by having less to clean up the morning after.
If you’d like a heat source that’s a little less time consuming to construct, you can always get yourself a gas patio heater; a strong heat and atmospheric light source rolled into one.
Offering wildlife support as the cold weather approaches is something they would definitely appreciate.
You may wish to put up some bird feeders or roofed tables to provide a safe place for birds to stop and eat. With different types of bird preferring different types of food, offering an assortment of feed will see a variety of unique breeds visiting your garden, making it the perfect hub for your feathered friends.
If you’ve an abundance of unwanted leaves lying about the place, you can build a cosy hibernation space for small mammals and toads. Using wooden stakes and chicken wire, build a little storage area with a small entrance. Filling it with leaves will not only provide a temporary home for wildlife, but as the leaves rot, your garden will be provided with a nutritious compost mix.
These garden design ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. While they will certainly transform your garden this winter, there’s still so much more to learn to keep your garden in tip-top condition and flourishing all year round. Our Garden Design courses are a horticulturist’s dream, and are intended to teach you the key aesthetics of gardening so you can make the most of every season.