The clocks have moved, the nights have drawn in and it’s starting to feel chilly in the mornings. Our hibernation instinct tells us to turn up the heating, get out the winter throws and dust down the slow cooker and fill it with stews and soups https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/slow-cooker
Before you hunker down don’t forget that if you have outdoor space it will need preparing for the colder months before the frost well and truly arrives. We’ve compiled a handy checklist to make sure that you don’t forget anything.
1.Remove the hose from the tap & store – if you leave it outside coiled up the chances are if it freezes it will have water left in it and freeze solid. Best to disconnect the hose from the tap, drain it fully and then store in a garage or shed off the floor. This will stop it freezing and splitting.
2.Cover your external tap – again to stop it freezing as the temperature drops. You can buy various things at DIY stores to protect it, or wrap in bubble wrap with some tape and pop an old plant pot over the top of it, which works just as well.
3. Prune plants & trees – as most plants and trees are dormant during the winter, if you prune them in the last quarter it will promote good growth when the spring weather arrives. It’s also easier to prune them at this time of year as you can see the shape of them with less foliage.
4. Cover any plants that need it - Materials such as fleece, hessian, bracken, straw and polystyrene can be used to insulate plants from cold or wind. To prevent sweating and possible rotting, protective covers should be removed when extended periods of very mild weather are forecast, but replaced as necessary if the weather becomes cold again.
5. Cover patio furniture/BBQs – you can buy covers to protect them or a sheet of tarpaulin works just as well as long as it’s secured and covers the whole set.
6. Seal decking if it needs it – the cold weather can play havoc with decked areas, causing splitting, cracking and warping if they’re not protected before the ice and rain arrives. It can also mean that they resemble ice rinks if not cleaned properly and then treated with a water-repellant sealant.
7. Drain water from fountains – once you’ve done this it’s best to unplug them too and if possible store them in a garage or shed if you have room.
8. Check & clear gutters – clear out any debris and fallen leaves and then check for any cracks or splitting to ensure that they will do their job of leading water off your roof and into the drains where it belongs.
9. Rake leaves –the lawn needs to breathe and if it’s left under a pile of rotting leaves it can encourage snow mould and brown patches on the grass. These piles of debris can also attract pests and diseases if they’re not raked regularly during the winter months.
10. Reflect and plan - now is the time to put your feet up and make time for reflection. What worked in your garden this year? What flopped? Do you need more garden space for planting? There are probably some new types of seeds you’d like to try planting next year.
Spend a few of those chilly winter evenings indoors by the fire with a bowl of hot soup - planning what you can do to improve your garden next year. You’ll be surprised how a little planning can make a big difference!
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