It may seem as if there’s not much to do in your garden during the winter months, but the fact is there are gardening tasks to be taken care or year round. In this article I provide a quick reference sheet to help you stay on top of your chores throughout the year!
Of course, you’ll want to venture out every day to provide food for your wild garden friends, but there are also lots of gardening chores to do during the winter. Even though the days are cold and short, there’s lots going on under the surface of your garden. As the days begin to lengthen toward the end of the month, your trees, shrubs, perennial plants, bulbs and tubers will begin to grow. On bright, cold days you can begin tidying up your garden.
Here are a few things you can take care of:
- Clean up your greenhouse and make sure your pots are sterilised and ready for use.
- Check on your over-wintered plants and tubers and discard any that have gone bad.
- Shred up your Christmas tree to use as mulch.
- Spread worm castings over your lawn areas.
- Shelter your fruit trees against late frosts.
- Plan for and prepare new garden beds.
- Force your rhubarb.
The days will be longer and a wee bit warmer this month. You’ll start to see your early bulbs sprouting, and you’ll need to put out extra wildlife food as wild things become more active. Now is a good time to get jump on your shrub, vine and hedge pruning to keep it under control in the warmer months.
Here are some more cool weather tasks to pursue:
- Prune bougainvillea, wisteria, evergreens and winter-flowering/winter-interest shrubs and bushes.
- Sprout your stored potato tubers by setting them out in a warm, well-lit place – eyes up!
- Begin planting your veggie beds, but be sure to provide them cover against frost.
- Tidy up dead grasses and unsightly overgrowth all around the garden.
- Put netting over your fruit trees to protect fruit against birds.
Around the middle of March, the weather will become more spring like with more and more warm, sunny days. Now you can finally get a real start on your veggie and flower gardens.
Here are some important early spring chores:
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around tender shoots to keep the slugs away.
- Get your pond up and running for spring and begin feeding your fish.
- If your grass needs mowing, get started before it gets out of hand.
- Add compost to your containers as a top-dressing.
- Plant your potatoes, shallots, onions and garlic.
- Plant over-wintered bulbs and tubers.
- Prune roses, dogwood and willow.
- Thin overgrown perennial plants.
- Begin early weeding.
This is the month when spring finally arrives and life is bursting forth all around you. It is arguably the best time to enjoy fresh air and sunshine in your garden as your fruit trees begin blooming and daffodils and other early spring flowers bob their lovely heads.
Pursue these tasks to guide your garden as growth accelerates:
- Sow wildflower, herb and hardy annual seeds directly into your garden beds.
- Fertilize your rosebushes and vines, as well as your shrubs and citrus trees.
- Be sure that your blossoming fruit trees are protected against late frost.
- Check for bare spots in your lawn and re-seed as needed.
- Trim your fig trees before they begin to bud.
- Tie and guide climbing plants and vines.
- Give your houseplants a bit more water.
- Divide water lily and bamboo plants.
- Continue to weed regularly.
This month the days will definitely warm up and lengthen. Early bloomers will die back, and herbs and grasses will experience rampant growth. Be sure your lawn mower is in good working order!
Your chores will increase considerably this month!
- Mound earth around your potato plants to prevent new (potentially poisonous) tubers from growing.
- Be sure your tender new plants have good protection against surprise frosts and chilly nights.
- Keep hoeing your weeds and begin watching for garden pests such as grubs and beetles.
- Lift and divide early spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils as needed.
- Open up your greenhouse to fresh air when the days are warm enough.
- Establish a weekly mowing regimen and keep after it!
- Water in the early hours of the day to conserve water.
This is a lovely and bounteous time of year. Flowers are bursting out all over, and you should have some early veggies to harvest. This month is a good time to pay close attention to providing support for your veggie plants as they become heavy with produce.
Here are some tips for this busy time of year:
- Put a fence of fleece or Enviromesh around your carrot bed to protect it against carrot flies.
- Sow Florence fennel, chicory, leeks and brassicas directly for a nice wintertime harvest.
- Harvest and re-sow sugar snap peas, Borlotti beans, French beans and carrots.
- Pinch off suckers from your tomatoes and reinforce their supports.
- Add supports to cucumber plants.
After all your hard work throughout the year, you can take a much earned break and enjoy sitting out in your well-tended garden during these hot summer days.
There’s still some tidying up to do, but it’s not too taxing!
- Keep your houseplants and container plants well-watered.
- Tend to your fruit trees and harvest your fruit as it ripens.
- Keep your pond filled, clean and free of algae.
- Deadhead flowering plants.
- Fertilise your lawn.
Your biggest challenge during this hot month will be watering. Be sure to water early in the morning and reuse “gray-water” (water from baths and showers and dish and clothes washing) as much as possible. This water is fine for lawn watering.
Take care of these important tasks during this hot, dry month:
- Prune summer flowering shrubs and plants such as lavender and wisteria after the flowers have died.
- Prune and thin raspberry canes as they finish fruiting.
- Be sure to keep water at optimum levels in your pond.
- Establish a watering schedule and follow it closely.
- Continue deadheading flowering plants as needed.
- Use green manure to boost and amend your soil.
- Prune your fruit trees in preparation for winter.
- Lift strawberry runners and put them in pots.
- Gather and save seeds to plant next year.
- Harvest your late summer veggies.
During this late summer/early fall month, the cooler temperatures and light breezes are sure to come as a relief. Your gardening tasks will fall off a bit this month, but you’ll still be busy with your harvest.
Pursue these tasks to get ready for the winter and spring months ahead:
- Water sparingly as needed and reduce the amount you water your house plants.
- Put netting over your pond to prevent leaves from contaminating the water.
- Prepare your greenhouse and your cold frames for late fall and winter.
- Gather seed from your hardy annuals and perennials and sow it.
- Put netting over leafy veggies to protect them from birds.
- Harvest all of your potatoes so slugs won’t get them.
- Divide your herbaceous perennial plants.
- Plant out your spring-flowering bulbs.
Nippy weather should have set in by now. You can enjoy traditional autumn activities on crisp, cool days. Leaf raking keeps your garden tidy and provides you with a source of wonderful fertilizer.
Get ready for winter with these light duties.
- Divide your rhubarb and herbaceous perennials for an even better harvest next year.
- Mow and tidy your lawn and put out new turf as needed.
- Prune back spent perennials and climbing roses.
- Continue harvesting fruits and nuts as needed.
- Transfer delicate plants to your greenhouse.
- Plant cabbage for spring.
The weather will begin to get inclement this month. Now is the time to begin battening down the hatches for winter.
Protect your garden and provide for your wildlife with these steps:
- Rake up fallen leaves and mound them up to create leaf mould for use in the springtime.
- Elevate and insulate outdoor containers to prevent water-logging and freezing.
- Set up your winter bird feeders and begin putting out more food for the birds.
- Put grease bands around tree trunks to prevent moths from damaging them.
- Put netting over winter-growing brassicas to protect them from pigeons.
- Enjoy a late autumn bonfire and get rid of excess garden debris.
- Be sure your roses are well-pruned to prevent wind damage.
- Plant your tulip bulbs for early spring blooming.
During the month of the winter solstice you’ll need to take extra care to be sure that your garden is protected against freezing. You’ll also be able to enjoy some cozy indoor gardening chores such as planning by the fireside.
Take these steps to ensure your garden is safe and snug during the coldest month of the year.
- Continue feeding birds and be sure your seed and other edibles are safe from unwanted wildlife such as mice.
- Prune fruit trees that grow in open areas to prevent freezing of extremities.
- Be sure that your greenhouse and pond heaters are working well.
- Harvest winter crops such as cabbage and root crops.
- Take care that all outdoor taps are well-insulated.
- Early in the month, prune vines, birches and acers.
- Plant or transplant deciduous shrubs and trees.
- Take cuttings from hardwood trees as desired.