How to care for your garden in winter

Patio in winter

The garden in winter – a beautiful white splendour. Because nature goes dormant in winter, many people think that gardening is over for the next year. However, it is important to look after your garden during winter months as well.

The winters in the UK have been gradually becoming colder and each year there are days or weeks when temperatures dip well below zero. Hence, it is useful to be aware what your garden can be going through during these cold spells.

Most plants do not freeze in winter but dry out. This is because in very cold winters the water in the soil freezes and the plants cannot absorb it. Like houseplants that are not watered, plants in the garden can dry out because of frozen water. To prevent drying out, check on very cold and frosty days whether the soil in the garden is frozen.

Plants that overwinter, such as conifers or evergreens in hedges like hollies or boxwoods, naturally need water in winter. Especially if it is a dry winter, you should water them as usual with watering can. The plants only need to be watered twice a week. Water them close to the roots so that the water gets directly into the soil. Droplets of splashing water can quickly freeze the branches and leaves and the plant may die. When watering, do not forget to water potted plants on the patio, in the conservatory or on the balcony.

Pre-growing plants

If you really miss gardening during cold months, you can prepare your plants for the garden in winter before planting in spring. Place the seeds in special soil with full nutrients and leave them at room temperature on the windowsill, on the staircase or in the conservatory. In spring, you can then dig up the plants and plant them in the garden straight away.

There are perennials that germinate in the cold. This means that they need a cold stimulus for several weeks to germinate. You can store them in cool moist sand before sowing or sow them in a greenhouse when it is not freezing. Cold germinating plants include for example:

  • Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium)
  • Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
  • Heliopsis
  • Lavender/Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) or lettuce

Black Elder (Sambucus Black Lace), Fragrant Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) and other flowering shrubs can already be propagated by cuttings. Direct sowing of some plants is possible as early as January in the greenhouse, for example leeks, some varieties of chillies and petunias.

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Your garden pond and fish in winter

Don’t let the garden pond freeze over completely! The garden pond should remain unfrozen in several places to allow rotting gases to escape. These gases are formed at the bottom of the pond when plant debris decomposes. If the gases remain in the water, they can poison the fish. To keep the hole in the pond free, you can leave a piece of polystyrene or wood floating on the water to prevent it from freezing. To prevent gas build-up, you should remove dead plants from the bottom of the pond before winter sets in. We will touch on this topic again in out next winter blog.

What you should also bear in mind

Frost damage usually occurs in sensitive plants and in plants that come from other climates. Delicate plants such as roses should be covered with fir branches, jute bags or special covers to protect them from frost. Plants that come from other climates and cannot be overwintered outdoors should be dug up and overwintered. Winter storage varies depending on the plant. For example, non-leaved tubers or bulbs are best stored in a cool, dark room such as a cellar. Deciduous plants such as palms are better stored in a bright and dry room. A suitable place is a greenhouse or conservatory.

You should know that road salt is toxic to plants and should not be allowed to reach them. Otherwise, it can get into the soil along with melted water, reach the roots and kill the plant. Therefore, water evergreens and protect them from salt, frost and heavy snow.

If you are unable to take care of your garden yourself in winter, contact us! We will be happy to help you!