Springtime is the season when we naturally start thinking about our gardens, but in order to get the most out of them, late autumn is just as important. Getting your garden ready for winter will ensure that it looks its best throughout the dormant months and will be stronger, healthier and easier to maintain when spring rolls around again.
Getting Your Lawn Ready for Winter
Lawns don't actually go as dormant as they appear to throughout the winter months. While not much is going on on the surface, they are laying down roots and still need nutrients to survive. Getting your lawn ready for winter isn't difficult or time consuming, but will reap great rewards when the grass starts to grow again in spring:
- Over summer, the soil in lawns tends to become compacted. This inhibits lawn growth and encourages weed growth. Aerate the soil with a lawn aerator (you can buy one at a good garden supplier) to ensure the lawn's roots have plenty of "breathing space" and drainage when the rains come.
- Weeds are a problem simply because they are so hardy and spread their seeds so prolifically. Do a thorough weeding in early winter and the weeds won't have a chance to spread and become a nightmare in spring.
- Fertiliser is important because it helps the lawn stay healthy throughout the winter and sets the stage for spring and summer growth. For best results, you may want to contact a good garden maintenance expert in your area, have them test the pH level in your soil and recommend the best fertiliser and soil conditioners for your lawn. Ideally, you want a pH balance of between 5.5 and 7.5.
- If you have any bald patches in your lawn, late autumn is a good time to fill them. You can either transplant overgrowth from the edges of your lawn or seed the bald patches.
Getting Your Garden Ready for Winter
Any landscape architect will tell you that the best way to get your garden ready for winter is to plant winter flowering natives if you haven't already done so. Why wait until spring for flowers when some of the most beautiful varieties blossom in winter? Some Australian natives to consider are Grevilleas, Correas and Giant Candle Banksias.
These are some important "dos and don'ts" to remember when getting your garden ready for winter:
- Do mulch - especially if you live in a frost-prone area.
- Don't prune in winter. Pruning encourages growth. This is not healthy for plants when they are entering their dormant phase.
- Do plant bulbs: Late autumn/early winter is the ideal time to plant bulbs. You'll be glad you did when they flower in spring and summer.
- Don't cut back your roses in winter.
- Do transplant bushes or small trees in winter.
- Don't think you have to wait for spring to grow vegetables again. There are some great winter vegetables you can plant in your vegetable garden.
Another thing you might want to consider doing is starting a compost heap in winter. That way, it will be ready to use when you need it in the spring.
Finally, after you've finished getting your garden ready for winter, clean and dry your gardening tools and store them in a dry place. Why not have your lawnmower serviced and tools sharpened while you're at it? When spring arrives, they'll be in tip-top condition and ready to use.