If you want your garden to come back looking fresh and healthy in the spring, it’s important that you take steps to prepare the plants and soils for the cold winter weather. During the summer, many insects lay eggs on plants, which can hatch over the winter and increase the risk of disease. That’s why cutting back bigger branches, and removing dead flowers from shrubs, is the first step towards creating a great winter garden that’s ready for sleet, hail, snow and below-freezing conditions!

If you haven’t already done so, late autumn is the perfect time for harvesting the last of your summer fruits. Crab apples especially – particularly if they haven’t had much sun over the summer – can still be ripening at the beginning of October, so keep an eye on fruits like these and make sure you harvest them before the cold weather affects their taste. Whatever you do, don’t waste them!

As the weather continues to get colder, monitor the condition of your soils. When your soil starts to feel harder to the touch and appears to be beginning to freeze, apply a layer of mulch. Mulch helps to maintain a more constant temperature underneath the surface, preventing plants from struggling with abrupt temperature changes. You can easily make up your own mulch with grass cuttings, pine needles, fallen leaves, and so on. Any healthy, organic matter makes great mulch for winter.

Thinking Ahead

Preparing the garden for winter isn’t just about protecting the soils – it’s about thinking ahead and making sure you’re all ready for when those spring crops start popping up and that warm weather begins creeping in. This includes sorting out your shed, washing up your BBQ, and cleaning and sharpening your garden tools. Organisation is key to a healthy garden, and this is a good time to have a good clear-out and reorganise your garden equipment if you’ve started slacking.

Remember – you’re unlikely to need many of your tools over the winter, so consider using a storage company to keep your pruning tools or power equipment safe, secure and free of damp over the harsh winter. The only equipment you’re likely to need over the winter is a rake for gathering leaves for your mulch bin, and a lawn mower. There’s a common belief that lawns shouldn’t be cut over the winter, but keeping them well maintained is actually one of the best ways to ensure they come back full and lively in the spring. Fertilise for the final time in late autumn, and then continue mowing as the weather allows. Regular mowing is much better for the grass than one single close shave.

Potatoes on good soil

Winter Planting & Harvesting

While gardens don’t always have the same vibrancy in the winter as they do in the summer, there’s no need to leave your garden looking barren until the spring. In fact, winter is one of the most important seasons for the garden – it’s when those spring and summer crops begin their lifecycle.

Onions, garlic, broad beans, and peas are ideal for sowing in late autumn. Many varieties are particularly hardy, and are incredibly low maintenance over the winter, essentially taking care of themselves. These vegetables will typically be ready to harvest in the spring and summer. If you grow tomatoes, peppers, or chillies, you may even have some harvesting to do over the winter too. Don’t be in a rush to pull up your plants in preparation for winter, as these plants often continue to produce fruit well into October, and even November! If there’s a chance of another ripe tomato, don’t rush!