Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to Prepare Your Garden for Winter

Shorter days and cooler nights mean it’s time to start preparing your garden for winter – especially if you live in parts of South Africa where winters are dry, cold and frosty.

Cleaning and Feeding

Now is a good time to trim hedges and clean up your existing plants by cutting away any dead wood and old growth.

It’s wise, however, to wait until July to prune roses, because pruning earlier will lead to early sprouting, and this can result in the new buds being damaged by the intense cold of mid-winter.

This is also an excellent time to add compost and mulch to your garden beds.

Protect Seedlings

While many winter seedlings are quite hardy and frost-resistant, some – like Cineraria – do require frost protection when it gets really cold.

A sheet of hessian can be used, but a better option is Frost Guard, a horticultural fleece that allows water and light through, so you can leave it in place for weeks if necessary.

Divide Perennials

March and April is when you should divide and separate perennials such as Agapanthus, Day Lilies and Penstemons, as they tend to “clump up” during the summer months.

Soak the soil well and dig them up, making sure you keep the roots intact. Then, using a garden spade or two garden forks, split the clumps in two.

Replant them in well-composted soil between 20cm and 30cm apart.

Lawn Care

Heavy summer rains leach nutrients out of the soil, which can lead to uneven, patchy or underfed lawns.

This can be remedied by top-dressing with a light, sandy loam and feeding with a balanced fertiliser such as 2:3:2 (available at all good nurseries).

Before applying your top-dressing, it’s a good idea to scarify, or loosen, your lawn so that new growth can come through, especially if a lot of roots and dead grass are at the surface.

Use a garden fork or a lawn mower at a very low setting to scuff up the lawn, breaking up the networks of old roots and aerating the soil.

What to Plant

This is a good time to plant winter annuals like Primulas, Pansies and Violas; bulbs such as Daffodils, Ranunculus and Freesias; and leafy and bulb vegetables like Lettuce and Onions.

Where to get Advice

If you need more information or advice about preparing your garden for winter, talk to your garden estate maintenance people or contact brandon@4seasons-gardens.co.za.

(c) 2010