Winterizing your garden: How to protect your outdoor plants

Cold season
Winterize your garden: How to protect your plants from the cold

With appropriate protective measures, your plants will get through the winter unscathed

© Ludmila Kapustkina / Getty Images

Not only plants, but also garden furniture suffer from the prevailing weather conditions in winter. If you don’t want to experience any nasty surprises in spring, you should winterize your garden as soon as possible.

Even if winter does not reach its peak until the new year, the falling temperatures are already causing problems for many garden dwellers: Sensitive plants such as roses and camellias, young trees or many hardy potted plants are particularly susceptible to frost damage and must be protected from the increasing cold . The same applies to sensitive garden furniture and rust-prone garden tools, which should not spend the winter outdoors – and if they do, then only with appropriate protection. The tips and tricks you can use to get your garden through the cold season unscathed are summarized below.

Garden checklist: the most important steps

1. The lawn

You should mow your lawn for the last time this year by the end of November at the latest – after that it no longer makes sense, as you may even damage it if it has to survive the winter with its clipped too short. It is best to set your lawn mower higher so that your lawn can catch enough sunlight even in the cold season and offers no surface for uninvited guests such as moss to attack. And even if you think you need to fertilize the grass again before the cold spell, experts advise you the opposite. Because the fact is: the nutrients can no longer be absorbed by the grass and thus only end up in the groundwater. Before the actual onset of winter, you should also collect the remaining leaves so that the lawn gets enough light.

2. The plants

Most perennials in the garden survive the winter without any problems and do not even have to be cut back. However, this does not apply to sensitive plants such as roses: their turbidity may only be shortened by a third to protect them from frost. You should then arm them against the cold with bark mulch or spruce brushwood. Hardy potted plants, on the other hand, can, as the name suggests, remain outdoors all year round – but they still need a little (frost) protection. With appropriate protective materials such as bubble wrap, garden fleece or styrofoam panels you can make the plants winter-proof: you wrap the plant with the foil, with the fleece you offer all-round protection and the styrofoam is pushed under the bucket. After that, it is best to place the plants in a wind-protected place, for example in front of the house wall. Mediterranean pot plants that are not hardy should always be kept in the basement or garage over the winter, otherwise theirRoot balls could freeze.

3. Flower and vegetable beds

Flower bed in winter

Early bloomers such as crocuses can also overwinter in the flower bed

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Before you dispose of the last leaves, you can also cover your beds with them – but before that you should cut off all dead or withered plant remains. If there are no leaves left, you can also cover your flower and vegetable beds with garden fleece. But fresh compost is even better: it can mature over the winter and offers the plants an ideal breeding ground when they develop new shoots in the spring. If you have an herb garden, you can also use fir or spruce branches to protect the herbs from the cold. If early bloomers (e.g crocuses, tulips or daffodils) are to overwinter in your flower bed, you must plant the tubers in the ground before the first frost. Then you will usually survive the winter without any problems.

4. Trees and shrubs

A rule of thumb says that trees and shrubs should be cut back in October. However, since the first real frost is still a long way off, you still have the opportunity: by pruning branches and twigs that are too long, leafless, dead or diseased from below, new shoots will grow back better and faster. With fruit trees, it is important to cut off the old branches directly at the trunk – preferably always over younger shoots. If you want to cut back your hedge, you can thin it out and make it smaller. As soon as the first frost sets in, it is important to stop pruning your trees and shrubs as the cuts will no longer close. With a lime paint you can also protect young trees, alternatively one can also help Jute sheathing or one reed mat against frost.

5. The garden pond

Frozen garden pond

A hole in the frozen garden pond protects fish from suffocation

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In winter, the fish retreat to the garden pond: More precisely, they fall into a kind of hibernation during the cold season so that their metabolism slows down and they can get by without food and little oxygen until next spring. Normally, the animals persevere in the deeper water layers, so that they are not in any danger if the pond freezes in the upper layers. However, if the water freezes completely, the fish can suffocate in it. You can minimize the risk by wintering one ice preventer, if necessary, place it on the water surface with sinker clamps (in case of permafrost) – it ensures that the pond cannot freeze completely. This is made possible by a styrofoam ring, which has an insulating effect on the water.

6. The water connection

If you have an external water connection in the garden, you should protect the pipes from the first frost by emptying them completely – otherwise there is a risk that residual water will freeze in them, i.e. expand and cause the pipes to burst. It is best to close the main valve to the outside lines over the winter, then turn on the faucet in the garden so that the remaining water can flow out. To ensure that there is no more water in the pipes, you can open the drain valve in the second step to collect the remaining water.

7. The garden tools

The devices also have to be winterized to prevent them from rusting. It’s not enough here mowing machine and Co. should simply be stored dry – instead, the garden tools should be thoroughly cleaned before winter sets in. Important: Disconnect electrical appliances first before removing loose debris such as foliage, grass, and dirt with your hands or a small broom. The first rust stains, on the other hand, are fought with steel wool and resin stains with benzine. You can also find further anti-freeze measures in the corresponding manuals for the respective devices, if you still have them.

8. The garden furniture

Garden furniture in winter

Snow and ice damage many garden furniture in winter

© Paul Maguire / Getty Images

Last but not least, the garden furniture should not be neglected. Even if most of the materials are quite winterproof, such as tables and chairs made of rattan or aluminum, high minus temperatures and the sun’s rays give them problems in the long run. It is best for the garden furniture if you store it in a cool and dry place over the winter – because wood in particular does not like too much heat if it spends the rest of the year in the garden. A basement or garage is therefore the ideal place for your garden furniture to survive the winter undamaged. Alternatively, there is also a special one cover for outdoors, which is waterproof and also weatherproof.

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