Keep your garden protected through December

In the depths of winter there might not be much to do in your garden, but you need to make sure your protective measures are still in place and doing their job.

Garden protection

As the days get shorter and temperatures drop, there becomes less and less that you can do in the garden, which may be a blessing if you aren’t a fan of the cold. But you need to stay on top of your winter protection, and it is an important time for pruning as well.

Stay on top of things with winter protection

Winter gardening is all about being proactive rather than reactive, and if you take this approach you will ensure that your garden is ready to bloom again in the spring. Check that your winter protection is in place, secure, and replace anything that has been damaged.

Ponds can easily freeze in the winter, which can damage the structure and could harm any wildlife that live in the area. A good way to prevent this from happening is to use pond heaters or surface floats. If you do find your pond frozen over, hold a saucepan over the surface until the ice melts through. This way, you won’t harm any of the fish or other living things in the pond by breaking the ice. Floating a ball on the water in cold weather can also delay freezing. Never smash the ice, as the shock waves can harm fish.

Perfect time for pruning apple trees

The winter can be the best time to prune your apple trees, shrubs and hedges because it is much easier to see what you are doing when the branches are bare. If you have beech, hazel and roses then get to work on them while you can, just make sure you don’t damage them by sawing off thicker branches.

You should also make sure that wall shrubs and climbers are protected from wind damage by tying them back securely. It’s a good time to prune apples and pears too. Other general maintenance things to look out for include:

  • Check tree ties and stakes – replace or tighten if necessary
  • Remove weeds from the base of trees
  • Protect tender trees and shrubs from frost by packing their branches and securing with ties

As our Christmas plants blog explains, it is never too early to prepare your house and garden for the festive season. If you have holly berries that you want to use for decorations, you can protect them from the birds with netting.

Taking care of houseplants

If you use your greenhouse through the winter, make sure that the heaters are always working properly. Through the winter you should reduce watering and feeding of houseplants, while also making sure that there is enough ventilation in your greenhouse or conservatory. Cacti especially need barely any water in the winter; if you keep them barely moist until spring they will appreciate the water much more when they are ready to flower.

Over-wintering fig trees

In the greenhouse keep an eagle eye on pests like whiteflies and red spider mites. Mealybugs and scale insects such as nymphs can also lurk in bark and hard to reach corners. Deadhead winter flowering plants to avoid grey mould, and clean out old pots and trays to lower the risk of disease.