Spring gardens are made in winter according to John Arnott, Manager of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne, east of Melbourne.
“The secret to having the best spring garden is to get it ready during the cooler months so when the warmth hits the soil, your plants will thrive.
“Winter is a terrific time to be in the garden.
“With cooler conditions it’s a less physically demanding time to work; soils are moist and there are many plants that undertake all of their annual growth cycle at this time of year.”
John provided his top tips and tricks on winter gardening below:
- Clean up autumn leaves: Winter follows the most leafy season. Be sure to clean up the last of the autumn leaves with a blower or blower vac as leaves can become slippery after rain. If they are not cleared they can also be detrimental to your lawn and can smother small plants.
- Watch out for frost: Winter is a time to watch out for frosts. A sensible solution to frosts is to plant frost tender plants in protected areas and more tolerant plants out in the open.
- Select plants that are tolerant of wetter soils: Winter is a time that can see issues with heavy soil drainage. Try selecting plants that are more tolerant of wetter soils in those areas that are likely to get boggy.
- Prune your plants and trees: Winter is rose pruning time and a great opportunity to reshape trees with a chainsaw or pole pruner, in particular deciduous trees that have shredded their leaves during autumn. Bonus tip: If you have a wood heater this is a great cheap way to stock up your woodpile.
- Maintain your lawns: Although lawn growth does slow down in winter it will still require some attention with a lawn mower. Rye grasses and Fescues will be more active over the cooler months but it may already be too late for these grasses to be successfully established from seed. Bonus tip: Make sure to watch out for broad leaved weeds that can thrive in winter time.
- Keep the edges neat and tidy: Don’t forget to trim the edges of your lawn. This is a year round job which requires maintenance throughout all seasons. Be aware that grassy weeds are actively growing at this time of the year and can be easily managed with the use of grass trimmers.
- Plant to optimise your conditions: Try to position plants where they are best suited in regards to the area’s microclimates and the plant’s specific needs. If you are growing a sun-loving species with a north facing aspect you will need to allow these plants to take full advantage of sunny brakes through the winter months.
Although many people consider winter as a time where gardening gets placed ‘on hold’ for a couple of months it is in fact a great time to get out in the garden.
The biggest mistake you can make is to stop gardening during the fruitful winter period! Neglecting your garden also means neglecting your tools, which is another mistake people make during winter.
As the demands of your garden change during the cooler months, it’s a great time to get your tools cleaned, sharpened and serviced so they’re in prime condition for spring and summer. The Royal Botanic Gardens team use STIHL tools.