What do gardeners do in the winter?
Winter gardening work includes:
- Shrub regeneration and stooling
- Seasonal pruning
- Bare root planting
- Soil preparation
- Landscaping repairs
- General tidy after storms, pressure washing etc
- Garden renovation - doing all the big jobs you don't have time to do during the growing season.
Have you ever seen a hedge that is all woody underneath with a thin layer
of greenery on its domed top? Regular hedge trimming will keep a
shrubs surface shape, but the woody stems will thicken and harden over time.
These look ugly and may eventually result in unnecessary deterioration of
Hedge regeneration involves either pruning out the old stems and/or pruning back all branches to encourage fresh shoots in spring. The extent of the pruning will depend on how it has been pruned in the past or vary with species.
Roses are an example of a plant that benefits from regeneration (but not all roses).
Winter Tip: Now that the leaves have fallen, it is a good time to remove unwanted plants or have a big garden makeover. There is less plant to dispose of and you can see what you are cutting.
If Ivy or brambles are a problem, the winter can be a good time to remove them as they are easier to see among branches that have lost their leaves.
Did you know that all wild nesting birds are protected by law? These
means that you cannot deliberately disturb a wild birds nest between 1st
March and 31st July.
Winter pruning often includes plants that need to be pruned very late in the autumn, during winter and some very early in spring. If you only a hire a gardener in spring, your gardener may not have time to do everything that needs to be done.
Different trees, shrubs and climbers all have different needs and at
different times of the year:
- Some plants need to be pruned in late Autumn/Winter to reduce the chance of wind damage.
- Some plants need to be pruned when they are dormant to reduce stress.
- Its hard to prune properly when plants are covered in leaves.
- Some plants are pruned in winter when they are not much to look at! Why prune them when they look their best?
- Some plants need to be pruned when dormant to avoid vulnerable new shoots sprouting when frost is likely.
- Some plants flower in winter on old growth and are therefore pruned soon after flowing.
- Some plants are pruned in winter to reduce competing branches that may reduce yeild and block sunlight.
- Some plants are pruned in winter to encourage the growth of new shoots in spring.
Winter pruning often involves woody growth and therefore takes longer and results in large amounts of cuttings. However, by doing these heavy, more intense tasks in winter, your gardener can concentrate on regular maintenance during the growing season. This means that your garden looks better and you spread the cost.
The winter is typically a time for storms and strong winds. Your gardener
will be able to keep leaves cleared during these winter visits. Good garden
hygiene also helps to reduce diseases. Decomposing leaves and other debris
on hard standing will supply enough nutrients for weeds to self seed in
cracks, grow and then spread. They can also makes paths slippery.
Weeds will continue to grow during a mild winter. Your gardener will be able to keep borders weed-free during winter visits. Remember, when your spring flowering bulbs and border plants start to flower, the borders will be harder (more time consuming) to weed. It makes sense to keep them tidy before spring.
Some plants are dormant during the winter so they can be supplied as bare root plants (with no soil). Roses are often bought this way.
It might be possible to safely dig up and move dormant plants to another part of the garden.
As long as the soil is not frozen or waterlogged, these dormant plants can be planted before they 'wake-up' in the spring.
Bulbs are often planted in late autumn. Herbaceous plants are often divided and replanted in early spring. When this actually happens will likely depend on your local climate.
Lawn seed can be applied in the winter. Grass grows above 5 degrees.
Only heavy frost and snow slows down a professional gardener! Some members may offer snow clearance and grit supplies.
Winter is a good time to dig a new border. Leave the soil in clumps. The winter rain and frost will help to break it down naturally. This will also expose any pests to natural predators and the cold.
Digging over vegetable plots or preparing new ones can also be done during winter for the same reasons.
Is your lawn bumpy? The winter is a good time to remove sections of turf, add/remove soil and relay.
Now that you can see your garden in its bare bones, what repairs are needed? Plan ahead, what plants will need supports as they grow? Add them now.
- Does your shed have a leaky roof?
- Do you have a water-butt in readiness for summer?
- Do you have a compost bin in place?
- Has your fence blown down?
- Will newly planted climbers need new trellis or supports?
- Loose paving?
- Slippery paths can be pressure washed.
Now is the time to do these tasks - your gardener might not have time during the growing season.