Winter is coming.....
With the dark nights setting in and colder climates on the way our latest blog takes a look at some of the jobs that can be carried out at this time of the year in preparation for winter. Here are 8 simple tasks we at Beaufort Landscaped would like to recommend.
Protecting your lawn
Winter can be tough on grass. To help a lawn through the cold and wet months we advise a few practical tasks around this time of the year. Firstly, use a spring tine rake or scarifying machine to remove any dead grass (thatch) and moss. Then use an aerator to remove small plugs of lawn allowing oxygen, nutrients and water to easily penetrate the surface and make contact with the roots. An aerator can either be purchased/hired as a hand tool or a petrol-powered machine. Once the plugs have been removed brush in a good quality top dressing (high in phosphorous to aid root growth). This will ensure the grass site gains all the nutrients it needs over the coming months and encourage lush green shoots in the spring.
Battering up the hatches
Now is the time to check on any neglected and tired fence panels, posts and even garden sheds before storms may take hold. Check for any wobbly pieces of wood and replace or reinforce appropriately. To avoid the build-up of rot it is also important to keep fencing free from the wet ground. If you do not already have them in place, we recommend installing pressure treated gravel boards to allow panels to rest on.
Protecting your wood against rot, mould and fungi can also be achieved by treating with a preservative. Specific preservatives are available depending on the wood and whether it is pressure treated or not. Finally, a pruning back of any overhanging branches likely to fall during strong winds will stop them from causing major damage.
Bring under cover all tender perennial plants
Depending on the plant a greenhouse or conservatory ought to provide all the necessary warmth and sunlight required for most. Wrapping larger specimens such as bananas and tree ferns with materials such as horticultural fleeces, hessian or even bubble-wrap can ensure survival from the harsh colds and winds.
Tree Fern (Dicksonia Antarctica) with example of wrapping around its base to protect against cold snaps and high winds.
Cut back any final perennials
Using secateurs or shears herbaceous perennials can be cut back during autumn and after the flowering season and will help with the overall appearance of a garden and restrict decay and fungal growth. That said whilst restoring some order to your garden, complete tidiness may inhibit wildlife habitation and a healthy ecosystem, therefore a balanced approach is advisable.
Looking after your roses
All roses will benefit from some attention at this time of the year. Removing dead, damaged or crossing stems will not only create a tidier looking plant but will also encourage good air-flow and combat the spread of disease. Keeping with diseases, any foliage that shows signs of blackspot, mildew or rust should be removed and discarded. This includes any leaves that have fallen on the ground. Soggy, shrivelled and dead looking final blooms affected by wet conditions should also be removed at this time of the year to prevent rot setting. Finally, due to them being a shallow rooted plant we recommend shortening the stems of tall bush roses to avoid wind-rock during strong winds and winter-gales.
Example of Blackspot on Rose spp
Plant spring bulbs
For a splash of colour in the spring a large range of bulbs can now be planted including tulips, iris and crocus to name a few. Look for those that are plump and firm and ensure they are inserted to a depth of at least twice their height in appropriate soil and place them pointy side up. A good initial watering is also necessary to eliminate air pockets in the soil that could cause bulbs to dry out.
Collect fallen leaves and consider composting
Deciduous trees shed their leaves as they enter a dormancy state. Collecting these leaves can be a laborious task but offers an invaluable compost and soil conditioner (leafmould). Selecting a dry and still day, gather the leaves and place in a bin liner, add moisture if dry, then pierce several holes in the bag. You can then tie the top of the bag loosely and store out of sight for up to two years. After this time a good quality compost will be available for seed-sowing purposes or mixed sharp sand, garden compost and soil for potting compost.
Be kind to your visitors
Winter may not provide too much horticultural interest in your garden however it will still provide a haven, rest bite and source of food for many animals. Remember to start providing fresh water, seeds and scraps for birds and mammals alike. Further information on this subject can be found on the following link: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=382