Gardening Through The Seasons

What to Do in the Garden in Winter

A rake lies next to a pile of fallen leaves in a garden.

You’ve had a busy and productive year in the garden, but what happens when temperatures drop? You might be tempted to down tools, believing that there’s nothing to do in the garden during winter. 

In fact, there are lots of tasks you can be getting on with in the garden during the colder months. It’s all about preparing your garden for spring, so you don’t miss a moment of growing time. You might also want to be tidying up dead or shedding plants, to keep your garden looking its best all year round. 

Read on for a full list of winter gardening jobs to add to your to-do list. 

What do gardeners do in the winter? 

Contrary to popular belief, garden care and maintenance doesn’t just stop in December. There’s actually a long list of jobs you can do to keep active and busy in the garden throughout winter. It’s a great feeling to be getting ahead ready for the spring season.

So, what needs doing? It all starts with cleaning up the remains of the growing season, along with some maintenance of key structures like fences and outbuildings. You can also turn your attention to tools and equipment, plan next year’s sowing schedule and much more. And of course, there are your overwintering plants to look after. 

Clean up your garden

When spring arrives, you’ll want a clear space ready for sowing. You’ll also want a neat and tidy garden to look at from your kitchen window during winter.

This means it’s time to tidy up. Here’s a checklist of jobs to start off with:

  • Remove dead leaves and fallen branches
  • Sweep pathways and keep them clear
  • Dig out dead plants that are no longer of use. These are not only unsightly, but can potentially harbour disease which can affect other plants. 
  • Rake out any dead thatch and moss from the lawn. You might want to tackle other problems too, such as adding drainage to waterlogged lawns. 
  • Clean up any ponds or other water features. 

Remove perennial weeds

It’s so much easier to tackle those persistent perennial weeds when the garden is stripped right back. When plants have shed their leaves or been cut back, there will be less vegetation crowding the beds. This means you’ll have more room to work on getting rid of those weeds. 

Protect overwintering plants

At the same time as clearing up the garden and removing dead or unwanted vegetation, it’s important to tend to overwintering plants. These will need protection from the cold temperatures, frost, snow and ice. 

Anything tender should be brought indoors, or placed in a greenhouse. For plants that remain outdoors, consider wrapping their pots in bubble wrap, hessian, straw or fleece, or using cloches. Make sure you move your overwintering plants to a sheltered place (close to the house if possible).

Maintain fences and sheds

The greenery in your garden is taken care of, but don’t forget about your furniture, fences, sheds and outbuildings. Winter is the perfect time for a little TLC, as there’s less foliage around to obscure your view or get in the way. 

Start by assessing the condition of any timber furniture or structures, and replace anything that has rotted or deteriorated. Then, you can oil, paint or otherwise treat the wood to protect it from the harsh winter conditions. Put the work in now and your garden furniture will not only survive the cold months - but it’ll also look fabulous come spring.

Clean up your tools and equipment

It doesn’t take much time at all to clean your essential gardening tools, removing any soil, debris or dirt. You may even want to replace the handle on your favourite spade, or treat yourself to a new trowel.

Prepare for the coming spring

Now it’s time for the fun part - getting ready for spring. Here are some jobs to be getting on with:

  • Dig over the soil, and add compost and soil conditioner ready for planting.
  • Sow or plant out certain varieties of crops, which could give you an earlier harvest next year - just be careful to choose the right plants.
  • Plant your spring-flowering bulbs. 
  • Plan ahead for your future harvests so you can begin shopping for your next batch of seeds.

Reading next

The Vegetable GardenA gardener lifting up some microgreens from a tray containing a selection of different plants.
Gardening Through The SeasonsA winter scene showing a greenhouse in a garden covered in snow.

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