It’s official: the UK is preparing itself for one of the coldest winters on record. Insulate your home, boil your kettle, and settle in for a harsh one. Of course, the tabloid newspapers tend to say things like this every year, so whether or not we’re actually going to get the winter we’ve been promised (or threatened with) is a moot point. If we are, though, it might be time to start thinking about how to protect your garden against the elements.
During particularly cold winters, your garden can suffer immensely. The cold freezes the water in plant cells, which damages the cell wall, impedes growth, and possibly leads to the death of your plants. This is doubly damaging for fruits and vegetables; if a flower dies, it’s a sad thing, but if your food for the evening can’t be used then you’re going to be more than just a little put out. Here’s our guide on how to prepare your garden for a harsh winter.
Believe it or not, landscaping can actually help to protect your garden against the cold. By adding boards, paving options, or other landscaping details, you’re reducing the amount of plant material in your garden that can be damaged by the elements. Be sure to use heavy duty tongue and groove boards to make sure the wood of your landscaping isn’t damaged by the cold. There’s no reason your garden shouldn’t be a nice place to be in winter, too!
Build a greenhouse
By protecting your most treasured or important plants within a greenhouse, you’re making sure the cold can’t get to them. You can build greenhouses with protective heating and irrigation systems in place so that your fruits and vegetables will thrive even during adverse weather conditions. Tips and tricks for making your greenhouse heating more efficient include insulating with bubble wrap and using horticultural fleece.
Water at the right time
Even though you’re in the middle of a cold winter, your plants still need to be watered and looked after. The right time to do this when it’s cold is right in the middle of the day, around noon or one o’clock in the afternoon. This is because temperatures are warmer, so you won’t be pouring cold water directly onto your plants and potentially damaging them. Freezing the soil means a loss of moisture, so be careful when you’re watering your plants.
Don’t bring your plants inside
When you’re looking out over your garden during a particularly nasty cold spell, you might be tempted to bring the plants indoors so that they don’t suffer from the cold. This could be a mistake. Doing so could potentially seriously damage the plants and could even kill them. That’s because the temperature difference between the cold outdoors and your heated home will shock them and cause them to wilt. No matter how much it might hurt, make sure to keep them outdoors as long as conditions aren’t too extreme.
Let it snow
Don’t clear the snow off your plants immediately. If a heavy snowfall has happened, clear off the top layer, but let a little snow rest on your plants. Thick snow can act as good insulation for your plants, meaning you could be protecting your plants by leaving it there. Be careful, though; thick snow can also be a great place for small pests to hide if they’re not hibernating. Keep a close eye on your plants, but don’t be afraid to let the snow settle a little.
Cover weaker plants
If you’re growing plants that are more prone to damage – those with a weak stem, for example, or a shaky root base – then it’s a good idea to find something to cover them with during the winter months. Upturned plant pots, buckets, watering cans, and pretty much anything that will provide a shelter for the plant all work wonders. Obviously, you’ll still need to lift the cover to water them, but try to keep it on as much as possible; the plant will appreciate the drier, warmer interior of the shelter.
Go smart with an app
Some of the best gardening apps out there have built-in plans and detailed itineraries for your winter garden. When you think of gadgets you think of your home; such as these, but don’t be afraid to invest in some smart tech for your garden, too; you can get smart sprinkler systems, robotic lawnmowers, and more. If you’ve got a smart home system like Alexa or Google Assistant, you can even set timers and tasks on some smart garden technology. It’s like having an assistant to help you with the more difficult tasks.
Take care when removing covers
The morning sun is rising and is taking with it the leftovers of the horrible weather the night brought. You’re about to remove your plant covers and expose your beauties to the glorious sun. Be careful. If you remove the covers too quickly, you could be damaging the plant by forcing it to defrost too fast. Remove covers slowly and deliberately, taking care to shield the plant from the sunlight for a while with your hands before you set the cover aside.