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Preparing the Garden for Winter

If the massive drop in temperature over the last week has taught us anything, it's that winter is definitely on the way. Don't retreat into the cosy depths of your home just yet though. There are still some things you should do in the garden to prepare it for winter. So tie a scarf around your neck, wrap up in your warmest jacket and pull a beanie over your head, because it's time to get your garden completely ready for the coming cold.

For a moment, let's go back to last week's article ââ?¬â?? How to Attract Wildlife to Your Garden ââ?¬â?? and remember that during the winter months many animals struggle to find food. One of the ways you can help to prepare your garden is to make it a welcoming haven for these creatures, by providing them with sources of food. Take a look at the article and see what to leave for each animal:

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Autumn is the time when the leaves change colour and fall from their trees, floating delicately downwards in showers of golden red and orange. Some gardeners see the oncoming flurry of leaves as a nuisance littering our lawns but, used correctly, these leaves can be one of the most valuable resources in your garden, for your garden. Collect all the fallen leaves together in a pile (take them from your neighbours if they don't want them), perhaps put them in a wheelbarrow, and leave them to rot. Yes, you read correctly: you want to leave them to decay. The pile will slowly turn into a hybrid mix of mush and leaf and, in a few weeks, you'll have natural garden compost known as Leaf Mould. Purchasing a leaf blower/vacuum will make gathering up the leaves a breeze (pun intended). On Garden Lawnmowers Direct we have a range of leaf gathering equipment available:

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So what does Leaf Mould do? Well, it works wonders for your soil, which will especially suffer in the harsh weather of winter. Spread Leaf Mould on any bear patches of soil and, as it continues to decompose, the mould will act as a fertiliser. Furthermore, the Leaf Mould will improve the ability of the soil to absorb water. Before applying Leaf Mould, remove any weeds, as the application of the Leaf Mould can stop them growing back, acting as a natural form of weed killer.

Now, importantly, before the bitter bite of winter arrives, be sure to protect your plants, trees, vegetables, and anything else you think will need it.

Perennial plants are ones which are supposed to live longer than two years, such as apple trees, strawberry plants, thyme and lavender. Just because these plants are supposed to survive over two years does not make them invincible. In fact, many perennials are considered so only in tropical weather. This means that they still require our help to conquer the harsh Scottish winters.

Start by cutting the perennial plants back, removing unnecessary, overly long or dry, or diseased stems and disposing of them ââ?¬â?? diseased stems should go in the bin, healthy ones in the compost. Cutting the plants back will also make them appear neater. Be sure to get rid of any signs of pests (eggs, small insects etc.) too. Be sure to leave all the stems which have solid seeding potential as this will not only allow new plants to flourish, but can provide birds which some much needed food. Now is also a good time to start planting your springtime perennial plants, giving them that extra time they need to bloom come March. That Leaf Mould you have made comes in useful here too and should be covering any bare soil in your plant and flowerbeds.

Small trees and tree saplings will need guards to protect them from bitter, strong winds and any remaining garden pests. Tie your tree to a stake placed deep in the Earth, and then surround it with wire mesh, in order to provide a basic protection. Online you can buy special tree guards relatively cheap too.

Protect your vegetables by placing a polyspun fabric across your vegetable patch. This is something you should definitely do for veg such as beans and peppers. Some vegetables, including carrots and sprouts, can survive a bit of light frost. Still make sure to give them a good covering with the Leaf Mould you made earlier. While some vegetables need protecting, others need completely harvested altogether: potatoes and onions to name a couple.

Take the time before winter arrives to spring (winter?) clean your Greenhouse. This will get you prepared for when spring rolls back around. Sweep out all dirt and plant remains from the floor. Remove all your pots and plants, giving the pots a good wash if there's time, and then disinfect the Greenhouse interior. While it's drying off would be your best time to thoroughly tend to those pots. For any plants you want to keep in the Greenhouse over winter, ensure you chop off any diseased looking areas of it first.

If you are growing in your Greenhouse over winter (and why shouldn't you be?), now is the best time to remove any shading you have on your Greenhouse. Sunlight is a slowly reducing commodity and those plants in there need all the light and heat they can get. So don't deprive them of even a single ray.

One of the final things you should do is to cover your pond with a net. This stops leaves falling into the water, turning the water into a thick, horrible, brown sludge, and then clogging up the filters. Plus, it's also an easy method to catch leaves for your Leaf Mould.

Finally, you should think about giving your grass that final cut before the lawn is covered in three feet of snow. If you don't have a lawnmower, be sure to check out the range of lawnmowers available over at Garden Lawnmowers Direct:

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Take these precautions and your garden will be ready for the coming winter. Then, come spring, you'll be in the perfect condition to really let your garden bloom.Ã?Â

By Dylan Blyth.

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