Up until December, there is still the chance that you might still use your garden, although the festive period usually marks a time where indoor activities are favoured over outdoor activities, for obvious reasons (it’s warmer, for one)!
As winter fully sets in, the cold can discolour ornaments and damage garden toys and – in the worst cases – leave furniture unusable the following spring. However the time and effort that you put into making your garden a relaxing environment in summer need not be wasted… Simply follow our tips to prepare your garden for the winter, so that when the first spring flowers arrive, you can enjoy them all over again.
Start by cleaning your garden. Sweep any debris away and rake your leaves. While you have the rake out, rake any gravel pathways to ensure that they are safe. As you collect leaves and other garden debris, you can either add them to your compost pile or add the debris to your planters as mulch. Have a final check over your BBQ and make sure that it’s clean – small animals and rodents will be looking for food and places to nest, and the smells could be tempting.
Seasonal plants can be a great way to keep your garden looking vibrant over winter, so whether that means growing fresh produce (such as perpetual spinach) or something more floral (such as winter jasmine), it is important to look after them. Although it is possible to grow things directly from the ground, you will often find that you’ll have more success if you use planters and pots. Similarly, if you live in a very wet climate, it can be worth protecting plants with a temporary cover. If you have concerns for exotic trees that thrive in summer, you can wrap them using materials such as fleece, straw or polystyrene. Wrapping trees will help protect them from frost and other harsh elements, helping them to thrive quickly in the summer.
Although garden ornaments are designed to be outside for long periods of time, being left to the elements of winter can lead to them rusting, discolouring, getting damaged, beginning to rot, or blowing away. The obvious solution is to bring them inside as winter sets, but this is not always practical. Coating statues in car wax can offer protection against all weather – simply apply the wax using a cloth or sponge. If you’re worrying about rust, take a water sealer and sponge and apply all over your ornaments. To avoid wooden decorations rotting, ensure that they have also been coated with wood sealer. With small plastic ornaments, either affix them to your fence or collect them and store them safely.
Toys and furniture
Some garden toys and furniture sets are designed to stay outside across all the seasons. Stainless steel sets and children’s swing sets are fine to leave to brave the harsh weather, but items such as rattan sets, parasols and cushions can become unusable if left. As you store your rattan furniture, be sure to oil it, which will help to keep dampness to a minimum. As your put away cushions and other soft furnishings, store them in plastic boxes to protect them from damp.
If you have garden toys, most will simply need to be stored away from harsh elements, but sandpits and trampolines can be tricky. Cover sand pits to prevent animals and debris finding their way into your child’s play-zone. In theory, all that trampolines need to protect them over the winter is a cover, but strong winds can blow these away. It might be best to dismantle your trampoline and store it inside, protecting it from blowing away and rusting. If the idea of taking down your trampoline doesn’t leave you bouncing with joy (no pun intended) then use tent pegs and guide ropes to securely pin it down.
Outdoor lights are important all year round, but as the nights grow darker earlier, they become even more important. On a dry evening, check all the light bulbs in your outdoor spaces, and if they seem to be dimming then replace them. If you’ve been using solar lights, it’s advisable to invest in electric lights to ensure that the garden isn’t left in the dark until the sun comes back. As you’re checking your outdoor lights, why not combine the task and begin to mount your festive lights? Adorn net lights to bushes (giving a full light effect), use cable ties or light clips to affix icicles to your gutters, and simple lights to railings and window sills. Festive lights can be a great way to keep your garden bright during the cold dark nights.
As you follow our tips and prepare your garden for winter, you may find more than your garden tools, toys and furniture that need storing away until the spring. Garden sheds and garages can be damp and unsecure, so when summer comes around, you may find your furniture and toys unusable, or – worse – gone! Storage units can be a good alternative – dry, safe and secure – so all your garden equipment will be kept safe and sound.