Autumn begins and the temperatures drop. Now comes the time when we also have to prepare the garden, the flowers and plants for the cold season. For sensitive plants, this should not happen too late. Therefore, it is better to start earlier.
What does winterising the garden mean?
Due to the sharp drop in temperatures in winter, complications can arise if you have not taken proper care of your garden in advance. Watering cans, rain barrels and hoses can be severely affected if they freeze. In the case of flowers and plants, this can usually only be seen in spring. To make sure this doesn’t happen, we’ll put together your checklist for a smooth winter.
Turn off the water
This should be at the top of your list when preparing the garden for winter. Gardens quickly freeze any water left in the pipes and the expansion could possibly cause the pipes to leak as well as the taps. Since the water could also penetrate the masonry of the house and damage the plaster as well as the insulation, damage quickly becomes very costly. To prevent this, you should shut off the water pipe to the outside tap from the inside and open the tap. This allows the ice in the pipes that forms during freezing to expand sideways. Another option would be to install frost-proof outdoor water tap systems.
Empty watering cans and rain barrels
Watering cans should be emptied and properly stored before the first frost. The cellar, garage or tool shed are the best places for this, as the material can be protected from the effects of frost and will not be damaged. If the watering cans are to be stored outside for the winter, it is best to place them upside down so that it cannot rain into them. Rain barrels should also be completely emptied and the drainage taps opened.
Stow garden hoses
Empty the garden hoses completely and then roll them up. The hoses should also not be left outside in winter, as the plasticisers they contain escape more quickly under the influence of the strong changes in light and temperature. This causes the plastic to age more quickly and then become brittle and fragile. It is best to store the hoses hanging or rolled up. This is best done on a hose cart.
Mow the lawn for the last time
Before the onset of winter, the lawn should be mown for the last time. This should be set higher than usual so that the lawn can catch more light and thus stand up better to moss.
Remove the last leaves
With the first strong night frosts, the last leaves come down from the trees. Raking leaves is therefore also part of making the garden winter-proof. They must not be left on the lawn during the winter, because otherwise the grasses underneath will not get any light. First they turn yellow, and by spring brown bare patches often appear. The gutters should also be regularly cleared of autumn leaves. This is the only way to prevent them from clogging and overflowing in heavy rain. You can ensure this in advance with a simple protective grid system.
Winterising sensitive plants in the garden
The swept-up autumn leaves can be used to winter-proof frost-sensitive plants in the garden. You can cover your beds with it just as well as with a garden fleece.[textflow break][textflow break]Mediterranean and tropical potted plants must be overwintered frost-free. The following applies: the cooler the winter quarters, the darker they can be. At temperatures around five degrees Celsius, the plants reduce their metabolism to such an extent that they can survive in dark rooms. Some winter-hardy potted plants also need winter protection so that the root balls do not freeze through so quickly. It is best to place the plants close to the house wall in a shady, wind-protected spot. Wrap the crowns with some fleece and place brushwood or leaves around the stems. Then wrap the pots with some bubble wrap and cover them with linen fabric or coconut matting. Place the potted plants on polystyrene sheets so that they are also protected against the cold from below.
Get grit for paths and driveways
This is a personal request: Do not use salt for icy pavements and driveways under any circumstances. In its dissolved form, road salt is very harmful to the environment. It can also have a lasting adverse effect on animals and plants.
Grit and sand are more suitable. Applied in the right amount, grit provides a non-slip surface due to its coarse grain size. This means that your paths can be kept free of the danger of slipping throughout the winter. As a gritting material, sand has the advantage that you can easily sweep it into the adjacent beds or green spaces in the coming spring. Due to its fine grain size, however, it is not as slip-resistant as rolled chippings.
Insulating and winterising the greenhouse
A greenhouse can be protected from the impending cold with fairly simple means. Additional insulation is particularly important if you want to use the greenhouse as unheated winter quarters for Mediterranean potted plants.
A highly translucent bubble wrap with large air cushions is best suited for insulating the greenhouse. Depending on the manufacturer, the films are available in rolls up to two metres wide. They cost around 2.50 euros per square metre. Most films are UV-stable and have a three-layer structure. The air-filled studs lie between two film sheets. Films that are applied on the outside are naturally more exposed to the weather. On the inside, the films last longer, but condensation often forms between the film and the glass – which promotes the formation of algae. By the way: To prevent small greenhouses from freezing, you can build your own clay pot heater as a frost guard using a candle and a planter.
Winterising a pond pump
Some modern pond pumps are completely insensitive to cold temperatures. Still others are lowered to frost-proof water depths of at least 80 centimetres during the winter. However, most pond pumps must be protected from freezing water in one way or another. Otherwise, a lot of pressure will build up and the pond pump’s impeller will bend. So switch off the pond pump before the first frost and empty the inlet and outlet. Do not let the pump itself run empty – this could cause the device to overheat and break. The pump can then be stored frost-free until next spring. The same applies to water spouts and fountains, unless they are declared frost-proof.