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Winter gardening ideas

While your garden may be largely dormant during the colder months, your work isn’t done, and late autumn and winter are ideal times to take on some key outdoor jobs.

Whether you’re planting hardy cold weather plants to give your garden some winter colour, or spending time preparing your outdoor space for spring, winter gardening is time well spent.

This guide is packed full of great winter gardening ideas that will help keep your outdoor space looking great all year round.

When should you prepare your garden for winter?

Autumn is the best time to prepare your garden for cold and wet weather during the winter.

Because temperatures are generally still in double figures and sunny days often remain until the clocks go back, the early weeks of autumn can be a great opportunity to get your garden ready for harsher weather.

How do I make my garden look good in winter?

Gardens can sometimes look a little worse for wear when winter arrives.

And if you’re looking to sell your home, this could have an impact on buyer interest.

To keep your garden looking great during the colder months, you could:

1. Lay some new turf

Late autumn is a great time to lay new turf.

If your lawn is no longer looking its best after the heat of summer, some new turf could really help make your garden look great during winter.

2. Add outdoor lighting

With the nights closing in, one thing gardens can suffer from in winter is a lack of light to bring them to life.

By adding lighting to your outdoor space, you can really show it off – particularly if buyers come for a viewing late in the afternoon.

Up-lighting against large trees and shrubs can really boost the feeling of space in your garden, while hanging lanterns can create a cosy atmosphere that buyers will love.

3. Clean up pathways, decking, and patios

Hard-standing areas in your garden can become green and covered in autumn detritus as winter progresses.

This not only makes your garden look untidy but can also be dangerous as pathways become slippery.

Keep paths and patios clear of fallen leaves and brush away any moss or algae, while also scrubbing away any green deposits from decking areas.

What gardening can be done in winter?

Even when the weather is chilly and staying inside seems like a better option, there are plenty of winter jobs you can do in your garden, including:

1. Pruning roses, shrubs, and fruit trees

While some plants should only be pruned during the warmer months, cutting back others during winter can help improve their health ahead of spring.

Reshaping fruit trees and trimming back shrubs so they don’t outgrow their space are great garden tasks to take on during winter.

Bush roses and climbing roses, especially, respond well to pruning in late winter, which can help prevent disease.

2. Planting evergreens and winter bedding plants

Summer plant pots and hanging baskets need not sit empty all winter.

Instead, fill them with hardy evergreens and tough bedding plants that will have no problem surviving the British winter.

Winter bedding plants will respond best when planted in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes.

Be sure to plant them in fresh compost and water in, but only water during the season if there’s a long dry spell.

3. Looking after your garden’s wildlife

Your garden’s wildlife can suffer during winter, with food scarce and temperatures low.

But there are steps you can take to look after birds, insects, and reptiles:

Leave corners of your garden unkempt, with piles of leaves and debris providing shelter for insects and other animals

Maintain your compost heap, which can be a winter home for toads, grass snakes, and slow worms

Make a hole in your garden pond if it freezes over by placing a hot pan of water on the top – this will help provide oxygen to fish and frogs and eliminate toxic gases

Feed birds with seeds and fruit scraps like apples and pears

If you have a bird bath, keep it topped up daily with fresh water, while also leaving a small bowl for hedgehogs

Leave small amounts of food like cheese, potato scraps and chicken for foxes, and hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts for squirrels

4. Prepare your garden for spring

Late autumn and winter are the ideal times to get stuck into some gardening jobs that will prepare your space for the spring.

A little hard work now will pay dividends when the weather warms up.

Try to:

Plant your spring bulbs no later than November, before the first frost

Scarify and aerate your lawn now to encourage early growth in spring

Add compost to your flower beds and let the worms work it in for you

Tidy up your borders, deadhead spent flowers and weed your soil

5. Clean and maintain your garden tools

A gardener is only as good as their tools and maintaining key equipment can make gardening easier and even more enjoyable.

You’ll be using your tools less during winter, so make sure you give everything a good clean before storing it away until spring.

Key garden tool maintenance jobs should include:

Scraping off mud from spades and forks, before washing with soapy water and drying thoroughly

Sharpen sheers and secateurs and oil the metal parts to prevent rust

Clean and dry wooden handles and protect with linseed oil

6. Make use of fallen leaves

Leaf mould is a sustainable and cost-effective way to make mulch for your borders.

Once leaves are readily falling from trees, sweep them up and fill a bin bag with them, adding some water to help rotting.

Tie up the bag and make some small holes in it with a fork, before storing outside.

Within 12 months, the leaves will have turned into mulch which can be used on your border soil to suppress weeds and boost structure the following winter.

What plants can you have for winter?

Winter bedding plants can add some much-needed colour to your garden during the cold months, with great options including:












What to feed garden birds in winter

Birds often require a lot of food in winter to replace the energy they lose through heat loss.

Small birds like robins can find winter extremely tough without additional help from us.

Great things to feed the birds in your garden during winter include:

Sunflower seeds



Fat balls


Cooked rice

Also keep bird baths or a shallow dish full of fresh water for drinking and cleaning and remember to thoroughly clean and dry bird feeders to limit the risk of disease.

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