Advice from the Experts: Protecting Your Garden

Garden Plants Dunster House

The clocks go forward on October 26th, meaning the days are becoming shorter and we have one less hour of sunlight a day. Over the last week we have had sporadic weather; hot sunshine, heavy rain, frost, fog, mist and breeze! This mix of weather will be playing havoc with your garden, and your desire to look after it.
However, if the view from your garden building is going to be looking its best come summer, it’s essential that you keep your outside space ticking over during the darker months. We asked two top UK gardening bloggers for their expert tips, as well as providing you with some of our own.

Protect Delicate Plants from the Frost

The occasional frost can affect a variety of plants and can be particularly damaging to new growth and blossoms during spring. Those especially at risk include herbs such as bay, myrtle, olive and French lavender, tender perennials such as dahlias and blossom and young fruits.

There are a number of options when it comes to protecting your plants from the bite of frost:

  • Grow slightly tender plants in a sunny spot, for example against a south facing wall, to provide a little extra warmth.
  • If frost is forecasted, cover plants with a double layer of horticultural fleece or other suitable protection.
  • Mulch the root area of evergreens, conifers, tender shrubs and tender perennials to keep the ground fertile and easily maintainable.
  • Tender plants should be lifted or moved to a more sheltered position or greenhouse. You can also easily move potted plants to somewhere more sheltered. You can view our range of greenhouses here.

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Protect the Lawn

You should give your lawn a pick-me-up to repair it after the dry summer months. It will help get it in the best shape for spring to ensure the best bloom this summer.

  • Begin by tackling thatch and moss. Spread moss killer across the lawn and remove branches or low hedges that cast shade, causing moss to flourish.After two weeks, remove the dead moss and other debris by vigorously raking.
  • Improve drainage by pushing a garden fork into the ground as far as possible and then manoeuvring it backwards and forwards to make air channels. Then, brush across a sandy top dressing to fill in the holes and allow air and water into the lawn.
  • Finally, give it a feed with a lawn fertiliser. This will perk it up and help roots to develop.
  • Make sure you rake up any dead leaves, as these will smother the lawn, weakening the grass and encouraging pests.
  • You should also avoid walking on the lawn after a frost as this will cause damage.

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Garden Advice from the Experts

Alexandra Campbell

Alexandra is a journalist, author and the creator of The Middle Sized Garden, a blog which offers tips to other middle-sized garden owners, who want a gorgeous garden but have limited time and funds.

Garden Plants Dunster HouseAlexandra says: “Because I feel that ‘middle-sized’ gardeners are always short of time, I take a minimalist approach to protecting the garden in winter. That’s a slightly pretentious way of saying that I…er…don’t do very much.

“…However, I will be protecting my trees by getting a qualified tree surgeon in to trim the more mature ones by about a third. Last winter’s storms were terrifying here, and so many trees came down, or branches were blown off. Mature trees really make a garden – especially a middle-sized one – look balanced. I’ve only got three, so I don’t want to lose them.

“I’ll also wiggle any pots I want to over-winter as close to the house as possible. Houses give off an amazing amount of heat, even on the coldest days.

“And I will have lots of other good resolutions, like pinning black plastic over the veg beds. (Although) It’s very unlikely I’ll find the time to carry them out….

Louise Curley

Louise is a freelance writer, stylist and the creator of Welly Woman, a blog which covers a whole host of gardening related topics. She has written her own book, The Cut Flower Patch. She has also contributed to publications including The Guardian newspaper’s garden section.

Garden Plants Dunster House

She says: “Often winter wet can cause more problems for plants than cold temperatures. Alpines, herbs and succulents such as houseleeks will benefit from being sheltered from the rain and snow. Store them over winter in a cold frame, greenhouse or sheltered porch. To improve the drainage for other plants in containers lift pots off the ground using pot feet. You can find them in garden centres or online.”

With a little forward planning, you ensure that your garden is looking its best come spring. Do you have any more tips for protecting your garden? Let us know in the comments.

October 6, 2014

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