Is your garden ready for winter? Although Australian winters can be fairly mild, there are still some things you can do to protect your plants during the colder months and set the stage for a beautiful spring. Our checklist will take you through each step of late autumn garden clean-up, from weeding and pruning to soil enrichment and tool maintenance.
Clear out dead leaves and plants. Not only will this keep your garden looking pleasant, it will keep it healthier. Rotting leaves and plants can attract pests, harbor disease, and grow mold and fungi.
Weed your garden one last time. It’s extra work, but you’ll be grateful in spring if you do a thorough weeding now. While overall growth in your garden will slow, winter sometimes gives those hardy, invasive species a chance to take over.
Prune, but don’t go overboard. For now, just focus on removing dead, diseased, or damaged parts of plants and shrubs to keep them healthy. Some plants, like roses, will benefit from a more substantial pruning to stimulate growth, but not until much closer to spring.
Harvest finished compost. If you’ve been composting all summer, you likely have a lot of finished compost in your pile. Now is a great time to harvest some (or all) of this for use. As you finish the clean-up steps above, add the leaves and plant materials to your pile to generate new compost during winter.
Putting Your Garden to Bed
Check for drainage issues. Keep an eye out for pooling after a heavy rain or a soak with the garden hose. Dealing with drainage issues now will prevent your garden from turning into a muddy mess during the winter months.
Enrich the soil. Spread compost or manure evenly over the surface and till it until it’s well-combined with the soil. This helps incorporate the nutrients, improve drainage, and keep oxygen levels up, so that the soil will be perfect for planting in spring.
Add a protective layer of mulch. Layering your soil with the right kind of mulch will prevent the rain from washing away all that enriched soil you’ve just prepared. It will also help the soil hold moisture and keep more even temperatures during the colder months.
Bring potted plants indoors. This is a great way to keep herbs going through winter, but many folks bring in other sensitive plants, as well. Ideally you should do this before it gets cool enough that the plants lose their leaves.
Maintaining and Storing your Tools
Remove all dirt and debris. Give everything a thorough cleaning before it goes back into the shed. You can use a coarse metal brush, like a grill brush, to tackle the worst of the grit. Then wipe it down with oil to protect it from rust.
Sharpen and oil blades. After cleaning, sharpen and oil any tools that have blades. Secateurs, saws, and even hoes will benefit from this. Ideally you’ve kept on top of this all year, but sometimes it’s hard to find time when gardening season is in full swing.
Don’t forget the garden hose. If you live in a place where temperatures stay above freezing, you can probably get away with leaving it out. Still, the hose will last much longer if you detach it, fully empty it, and store it.
Thinking About Spring Already?
It’s hard to resist, isn’t it? We do the above steps with winter in mind, but they’re just as much about preparing for spring. It’s never too early to get out your notebook and start sketching out next season’s planting. Browse our seed collection to see the latest arrivals and leave us a comment if you’d like to share your spring plans. We’d love to hear from you.