As we head into the cooler months of the year, most people “hibernate” indoors and abandon all efforts in the garden, expecting the garden to perform miracles come 1st September (or 1st April depending on where you are). In most cases, the majority of plants do rebound well and carry on like old faithful, however there is a little bit of work that can be done over autumn/ winter, that will ensure your garden looks like a paradise in spring.
Firstly, just because the weather is cooler and some plants look worse for wear, does not mean we stop feeding or watering. On the contrary! Remember although plants may have no flowers or in some cases no leaves does not mean that the roots are not alive. So right now, a good layer of compost and mulch will go a long way to keeping the roots moist and protected from the cold, as well a keeping them fed. Watering can slow down somewhat maybe to once or twice a week (depending on whether you are in a winter rainfall area or not), and then in August (or March in the northern hemisphere) you repeat the process with another layer of compost all over the garden.
As soon as spring starts coming out of its shell, the lawn can be fed and watered well, and it’s then that you fertilize your garden too! A good organic fertilizer is best – good for the environment and it’s normally more beneficial to plants anyway. Watering then steps up appropriately and before you know it your garden is abounding with life.
As for pruning, that’s another interesting one – come winter, some people feel the need to just cut or chop down everything that is not covered in leaves!! First off, establish which plants/ shrubs should be/ can be pruned. Bear in mind that some plants are not evergreen, but flower first in spring, so if you prune them, no flowers!!! Also not all plants need to be pruned, aside from a clean up here or there.
So in essence there is still work to be done in the garden in the cooler months, but it’s certainly worth the effort when your garden rebounds in burst of leaf and flower as soon as the weather warms up!! And the benefit to you? Well you’re outdoors in the warmth of the sun and “fresh” air and its good exercise too!
Postscript: don't forget to move tender plants under shelter or if in the garden, cover them with an appropriate textile to avoid them being "frost bitten"!
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