Glad to see the back of winter? Hopefully, cold nights and dull, grey skies are long gone, and we can look forward to months of summer sunshine. Bad weather takes its toll on the garden which is why you need these ten tips to revive your garden after winter.
One day, your garden still seems crippled by winter but the next, with nothing more than a rise in temperature by a degree or two, everything blooms. Thankfully, helping your garden after the dark months of winter doesn’t take much.
Before you unpack your garden rattan furniture to enjoy the summer sun, help your garden along by sorting out these common winter garden problems.
1) Winter Problem: Muddy patches on lawns and in other areas
Exposed, bare ground takes a hammering during winter, usually spending the winter months waterlogged. Keep off it until the water has drained away and the surface has dried. Then, fork it lightly to air the soil and break up the compaction. Leave it exposed to the elements for a few weeks and then rake the top. You can either plant in it or lay lawn seed or turf.
2) Winter Problem: Compacted soil
All the rain, ice and frosts lay heavy on the soil and when spring arrives, our intentions to get our flower beds packed ready with plants ready to bloom may have good intentions but could be causing more damage in the shape of soil compaction. Hold back for a few weeks – don’t even weed! – and just let the water drain away.
3) Winter Problem: A devastated lawn
Grass has only very shallow roots and thus, waterlogged soil means it doesn’t thrive as well. Take a garden fork, and push deeply into the turf at regular intervals, moving the handle to and fro. Re-seeding helps it to grow green and lush and consider feeding it too.
4) Winter Problem: Wind damaged trees and shrubs
For serious damage to trees, you need to rely on the professional services of a tree surgeon but for smaller pockets of damage and shrubs, you can help them recover by;
- Renewing broken stakes
- Check ties are secure
- Remove damaged branches with a clean cut below the wound
On spring-blooming shrubs, leave any repairs until after they have flowered.
5) Winter Problem: Barren soil
Nutrients are washed away by rain, ice, and snow. Barren soil is no good for growing plants, especially cropping vegetables and fruits. Use a light dressing of a general fertiliser. Dried poultry manure is inexpensive but works great. Simply scatter a tablespoon full per square metre. Or use well-rotted manure or rotted compost from your own heap.
6) Winter Problem: Being lulled into thinking the weather has changed for the better
We are so pleased to see the first rays of spring sunshine we spring into action and start sowing seeds, dividing perennials and so on. But spring weather is changeable – remember March winds and April showers – so leave some of these more delicate operations until late April/early May.
7) Winter Problem: Root damage
Not all plants enjoy being swayed about in the breeze of gale force winds, roses especially. Any damage to their root ball spell disaster for future growth so check roses and if dislodged, firm the soil around their base. Stakes with canes if necessary until re-established.
8) Winter Problem: Excessively wet soil damaging autumn-sown annuals
Cornflowers, larkspurs, poppies, cyclamen and other autumn-sown annuals can take a bashing, more so when they are in water-logged soil. Save them by cutting off obviously dead strands, as well as top shoots but keep the side shoots as these have a tendency to recover.
9) Winter Problem: Compacted planters
Form pots to window boxes, the wind and rain compacts the soil or compost in these too, making it hard for tender spring plants to grow a good root system. If plants have failed, get rid of them but if not, improve the drainage by poking a stick through the drainage holes beneath to allow water to drain away.
10) Winter problem: Unprotected vegetables and fruiting crops
It doesn’t take much to protect your veggies and fruits. From fruit cages to inexpensive cloches, giving your spring sown vegetables and fruits a little bit of extra warmth and protection will mean you get a better crop later in the season.
With these few helpful hints and tips, your spring and summer garden will be a place of lush plants and blooms.