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How to Prepare your Garden for Winter

How to Prepare your Garden for Winter

Wintertime and the temperatures start to drop, we go on a hunt for our old faithful UGG boots, and we realise that hey, Winter is only a smidge away!

Time to check out our latest winter woollies, and as plant lovers, put our minds to the best ways to shield our gardens from those cold frosty mornings.

Let’s go over our most asked questions on how to look after your garden in Winter.

How often should I water my plants in the cooler months?

First off, pre-winter is an excellent time to put down a layer of mulch. The mulch acts as a blanket, creating a layer of protection from the cold, helping to keep the warmth in. It also means you won’t have to water as much during those Winter months. A layer of mulch 10 centimetres thick will do the job. Just make sure you have it at least 5cm from the stems of any plants to prevent stem rot.

Many factors come into play when watering, but it's our job to keep things simple around here!

Shrubs and trees, in fact, most plants, will slow down their growth during Winter, especially for those of you in our southern states. We call this their dormant season. Winter is time for them to rest up and get ready to bust into new growth in the Spring. Slow growth means less water and less nutrients are needed. Keep the soil moist (not wet, not dry, but oh, just right!), less is better. Overwatering when it is cold can lead to fungal and bacterial infection in your soil and on your leaves (yuck!)

Some plants may only need watering once every few weeks, and deciduous trees (trees that have no leaves in Winter) may not need watering at all, depending on rainfall.

 

Do I need to fertilise my plants in Winter?

No, you don’t. If your plants are not actively growing, then their need for fertiliser is much much less. But….a dose of Seasol or similar seaweed liquid can be helpful. The Seasol acts as a tonic, helping to strengthen cell walls to help fight those winter chills.

Start a month before the cold hits and give your garden a liquid feed every two weeks until the warmth of Spring joins us again. For those that have more severe Winters, especially in frost areas, this is very helpful.

Ease off on fertilising your plants in mid-March/early April in frost-prone areas. You don’t want fresh young growth on plants when you are about to get frost. Harder, older leaves will have more chance of survival.

 

Is there anything extra I can do to help my plants when we get frost?

All of the above will help but there are a few extra tips. If you know there are frosts coming (keep an eye on the weatherman) you can use these options for covering your most sensitive plants. 

1. Plastic plant cover 

Try this technique for your smaller plants; you can DIY one out of an old plastic bottle or an unused plant pot. Just make sure to remove these during the day if they aren't getting any light.

2. Fabric plant cover

A lightweight fabric can also be super helpful in preventing the frost from settling on your foliage. You can roll it out over the top of your plants or construct a teepee type tent over those special green friends.

3. Give them a rinse

A little tip for the early risers! If you can drag yourself out of bed early before the sun hits the leaves, you can hose off the frost on the foliage, so the leaves are no longer frozen.

The damage comes when the sun hits the leaves, and the leaves defrost too quickly. The leaf cells expand and burst, resulting in leaf death or damage; giving them a rinse down before the sun shines can prevent this.

What should I do if I get frost damage?

Despite all your efforts, sometimes you will still get a heavy frost and some severe damage. Our advice is not to remove the damaged foliage. Leave them on the plant so they can protect the leaves underneath that have not been damaged. You can prune all those off once you know the frost season has come to an end.

We know it will look a bit ugly for a bit, but think of it this way. It’s better than losing hundreds of plants that you would then have to replace. In saying all that, choosing the best plants to handle these conditions will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

You can explore our frost tolerant plants here.


What about outdoor plants in pots?

If you have any unique plants in pots, bring them in under the protection of a deck or nice warm sunny corner of your yard away from the potential frost risk. It's easy to keep these guys safe when you can move them out of the harsh weather.

Get winter ready. Leave the rest up to nature; it knows just what to do!

You will not see much growth hustling above ground during Winter. The soil temperature (remember the new layer of mulch you added?) will often be warmer than the air temperature, so plenty is going on below the surface in preparation for a killer Spring when the weather heats on up.

These cooler months allow us to appreciate the fast growing action in the garden during Spring and Summer. But, a sunny Winter's day, is the perfect time to get out in the yard and get dirty!

 

Feels good to grow!

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