Once a radiant garden full of life, your beloved plot is now a winter barren – from the moment the cold weather hits, frosty conditions can cause serious damage to plants, which is why it is essential to take the necessary actions to protect your garden. Here are our four tips on how to protect your plant life from the bleak winter weather, until the glory of summer arrives:
Deal with snow
The benefit of snow is that it acts as an insulator, protecting plants from the cold and frost. However, a heavy layer of snow can also cause leaves and branches to break. Shake excess snow from the branches of large trees, shrubs and hedges, to prevent them from becoming disfigured by the weight. Use lengths of string to support the branches of conifers and stop them being pulled out of shape.
Prevent damage in advance
There are many ways to minimise the effects of winter on your plants, such as avoiding high-nitrogen fertilisers. These fertilisers encourage plants to make lots of sappy, leafy growth that is particularly susceptible to damage. Ensure that plants with tender flower buds are not planted in east-facing sites. Frost problems are often made worse where plants face the morning sun, as this causes them to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls.
Protect plants from frost
Plants that are against walls or tender plants growing in the open ground can be protected with simple, fleece-covered frames. Evergreen plants will benefit from a thick layer of mulch around their bases to keep the soil frost-free. Tender plants should be grown in pots so that they can be moved inside during bad weather. Take cuttings of those that cannot be grown in pots and overwinter these in a warm greenhouse, ready for planting in spring.
Recover damaged plants
If your plants do get frosted this doesn't necessarily mean the end for them, many plants will recover given time. Feed damaged plants with a balanced fertiliser to encourage strong, healthy growth. Remember to dig up small, tender plants and take them indoors, or into a greenhouse. Many will quickly produce new growth and recover, provided they are not subjected to prolonged periods of heavy frost, wet or cold.
Whether it’s preparing for winter or ordering seeds for next spring, gardening is often about thinking and planning ahead to get the best results, so putting plans in place early will give the best chance of keeping Jack Frost at bay this winter.