Prepare your garden for winter
Prepping your lawns
A good lawn frames your garden beds, so the better it’s maintained the better your garden will look, and it will usually require a lot of attention at this time of year. Autumn rains have hopefully softened the ground so now is a good time to grab the garden fork and do some aerating.
Push the fork into the lawn surface around 50mm apart and around 25-75mm deep. This work will help bring oxygen to the root systems and improve aerobic activity from soil borne bacteria. Bacterium will come to life in this improved environment and will quickly help to break down locked up nutrients, freeing them up for your lawn to use.
Autumn and winter rains better penetrate the top layers of soil and help to alleviate any compaction or hydrophobic areas that may have been caused by activity on the lawn during summer months.
Another added benefit of aerating is to help ward off winter fungal disease which can be devasting to lawns that are struggling in low temperatures.
Once your lawn is nicely aerated consider giving it a feed of a good quality fertiliser that is higher in potassium than you might normally apply. This will help to strengthen and improve root health and set your lawn up to resist disease, making use of any available nutrients, particularly when leaf growth is limited due to low temperatures.
Maintaining your garden beds
In many ways the principles remain the same - roots and root health are primarily important. Roots need to be protected and cared for during the cooler seasons, however, like many things that are unseen they are often forgotten. With garden beds generally raised, aeration may not be quite as important as air travels more freely through looser soil. Worm activity is usually also more apparent in gardens beds and we know how important their work is in keeping soil healthy.
However, soil temperature can dramatically affect how well a garden bounces back after winter. Keeping your garden beds insulated can help many plants to not only survive winter but in fact flourish. Mulch plays an important role in maintaining ideal soil temperatures. Use a good quality mulch that is as close to a compost as you can find. Avoid using new green mulches as these will often reduce nitrogen levels available to the plants and can cause soils to become hydrophobic while increasing soil borne fungal diseases.
Just before you apply your mulch consider a light application of a fertiliser high in potassium, such as a seaweed-based product.
Enjoy your winter months in the garden and look forward to the first blooms of spring.
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