The garden is also in hibernation – but that does not mean that it is completely asleep during this time. In today’s post, we’ll tell you what gardening work to do between December and March and when is the best time to do it.
Gardening between December and February
You have probably taken the last winter measures in late autumn, sheltered plants, wrapped pots and protected your garden pond from freezing over. There will be less gardening work in the coming months than between spring and autumn. However, there are also to-dos for the cold season that you should think about regularly.
Water the evergreen plants
Plants that hibernate need water even during freezing temperatures – especially when it is a dry winter. However, it is enough to water them every two weeks. Make sure that the water only gets into the ground, as branches or leaves can freeze from splashing water.
Remove snow load
Heavy snowfall can put considerable weight on trees and bushes. So that no branches break, it is best to free the plants from the load by gently sweeping away. Very sensitive evergreens are safe if they are protected by a jute sack or garden fleece or placed under a tarpaulin before the first snowfall.
Cut down trees
When it is time to fell a tree in the garden, it should definitely happen in winter. Now all the leaves have fallen off the branches and the branches and trunk themselves are dry. As a result, you can not only simply remove the tree, but also use it – namely as valuable firewood. Although the wood is already dry after felling in winter, you should ideally stack and store the logs for one to two additional years in order to achieve their maximum calorific value.
Another occupation for the winter is the cultivation of those plants that you want to put in the garden at the beginning of spring. To do this, it is best to place the seeds in special potting soil and at room temperature in a protected spot – for example on the windowsill or in the (heated) stairwell.
Popular vegetable plants that you can prefer indoors from February are, for example:
Put plants in the cold frame
If you have a cold frame, you can even put certain types of vegetables, herbs or ornamental plants in the garden from February. It is only important that the plants do not suffer late snow or frost. It is best to orient a cold frame to the south for the best incidence of sunshine and ventilate it at least two hours a day.
These plants come into the cold frame from February:
Bring the tool shed and tools into shape
In addition to plant care, there are of course other gardening tasks that are available in winter. If you never take the time to clean out your tool shed or check your garden tools and machines in summer, now is a good time to do so.
Gardening from March
Cutting and fertilizing
Do you have your own compost? Wonderful – now is the right time to distribute the fresh soil in your garden. In places where no perennial plants come back, you can now dig, weed and remove any plant debris. If you don’t have your own compost soil, you can enrich your kitchen garden with fertilizer you bought.
Put early vegetables in the bed
From March onwards, certain early varieties can move from the windowsill or cold frame to the garden. A complete transfer of your early plants into the regular bed should only take place when night frosts are no longer to be expected (at the earliest at the end of May).
Spring rose pruning takes place between March and April, as soon as the roses have started to sprout. Reason for the cut: If a rose can concentrate its vigor on a few, strong shoots, it will produce more numerous and more beautiful flowers. Therefore, when pruning in spring, weak third and fourth order shoots are removed. If you have never pruned a rose on your own, it is advisable to get expert support in order to prune the flower gently and with the best result.
Gardening In The Winter – 16 Common Mistakes You Can Avoid
Let the plants “sweat” under their cover
At higher temperatures during the day, heat collects under plastic sheeting or in plastic cold frames and the water that has evaporated from the plant condenses. If there is frost again at night, there is an increased risk of frostbite for the plants. It is therefore important: If it is already spring-like warm during the day, open or remove the foil and bed cover to provide adequate ventilation.
Too much or too little light
The darker the place where you overwinter evergreen plants, the further they shut down their metabolism. A parking space that is not pitch black, but also does not provide too many hours of sunshine (e.g. north-facing) is ideal. In addition, do without fertilizers of any kind – this is the best way to “calm down” in potted plants in winter.
The road salt that is often used in winter is literally poison for the garden. It destroys microorganisms in the soil and thereby upsets its organic balance (the soil becomes muddy). In addition, when the salt seeps away, it destroys the cells of all those plants into whose roots it penetrates. So remember to change your shoes between the street and the garden and refrain from sprinkling yourself.
Step onto frozen lawn
Avoid walking on your frozen lawn: this is particularly sensitive early in the morning. The stalks covered with frost are frozen hard and snap off immediately. In the worst case, you will find dead spots in the grass in these places in spring.
Wake up winter sleepers
Pile of leaves or woodcuts that you dumped in the fall should be left in the same place all winter. Small animals such as hedgehogs or wild hamsters retreat to these quarters for their hibernation – if they are woken up early, this is life-threatening for the little garden guests.
Do not protect sensitive trees
Trees are particularly at risk of frost damage when the sun shines at sub-zero temperatures. As the sun-facing side of the trunk warms up, the bark there expands. The side facing away from the sun, however, remains frozen. The resulting tensions cause the bark to tear. The wounds are often a gateway for bacteria, fungi and pests. Young fruit and ornamental trees that have not yet formed a bark are particularly at risk.
Experts recommend painting them white with a special paint that is available in every garden center and specialist retailer. “The light shade reflects the sun’s rays, thus preventing the bark from heating up too much and thus preventing tension cracks,” says the Federal Association of Gardening, Landscaping and Sports Field Construction (BGL). Before painting, you have to carefully remove moss and lichen from the trunk. The paint should be applied with a brush in frost-free weather and renewed once if necessary in late winter. The root area of the trees should also be protected. Foliage is quite simply suitable for this.
Do not water evergreen plants
The evergreens need water even in winter. When the sun shines, water evaporates from the leaves. But if the ground is frozen at the same time, the roots cannot provide for replenishment. The water is stuck in the ground as ice. It should therefore be poured as soon as the soil has thawed a little.
Let plants “sweat” under frost protection
Many plants in the garden are wrapped up well over the winter. But that can become a problem towards the end of winter: the air heats up on sunny days, and there can still be frost at night. If the temperatures rise in early spring, you should therefore unpack the plants for a few days. However, the material should be close at hand should the frost return. You should never wrap the plants with air- and light-impermeable materials. Underneath, they sweat too much and could push ahead too soon.
Remove the light from potted plants
Exotic potted plants do not tolerate frost and therefore overwinter indoors, for example in the basement. The problem: evergreen species also have their leaves in winter. These include, for example
- Date palm and various types of citrus.
These specimens must not be too dark during hibernation. Behind a pane of glass in a conservatory or greenhouse, however, the light is usually less intense than in the open air. Then you have to watch out for low temperatures. This is how the plants shut down their metabolism.
Enter the lawn when it is snowing
If a lot of snow falls, they say: no walking on the lawn. “By walking on or driving on the snow thickens – this leads to an air exclusion”. And that can lead to the development of typhula rot.
What you also have to consider when it comes to snow and ice: road salt is poison for the garden. The grit damages hedges, trees and beds if it gets into the ground together with the meltwater. In most federal states and municipalities, private users are forbidden to apply road salt anyway. Hedges, shrubs and bushes near the road that come into contact with road salt require special care.
Leave masses of snow lying around
If it snows heavily, you have to keep an eye on trees and hedges. If the snow load is too great, branches can break off. It has to be cleared if the snow cover is thicker than ten centimeters or if you notice that the branches are already bending. This affects poorly cut plants in particular. They do not form heavily branched branches. “A thick handbag should be able to stand on a well-grown hedge.”
Store the lawnmower incorrectly over the winter
If fuel remains in the petrol lawnmower’s tank over the winter months, the petrol can harden over time – not only but especially if you operate your garden tools with E10. Resinized fuel contaminates the fuel lines and the carburetor, which could damage them.
However, rust film can easily settle in an empty tank. Our tip for wintering lawn mowers and other gasoline-powered devices: Fill the fuel tank to the top with fresh gasoline and then close the gasoline valve. Now start the device and let it run until the engine stops due to lack of fuel. In this way, the carburettor and lines empty out so that they are not contaminated by gummy petrol during the winter break.
Store pesticides in the cold
The effectiveness of pesticides suffers in cold weather. Frost can even make them unusable. The Rhineland-Palatinate Garden Academy points this out. Garden sheds or garages are therefore the wrong place for storage.
A changed structure is an indication that the funds are no longer suitable. This applies, for example, when they are thick instead of thin or vice versa, become flaky or clumpy or crusty.
Let the garden pond freeze over completely
The garden pond must at least in parts remain frost-free. This is the only way to allow digester gases to escape. These occur at the bottom of the pond when plant remains decompose. Since the fish are also in the lower water zones in winter, they are threatened with poisoning. Therefore, you should definitely remove dead plants and leaves from the pond in autumn.
To keep a hole free, a sheet of Styrofoam or a larger piece of wood that floats on the water is suitable.
Forget water pipes
It’s not just trees, flowers and trees that need protection from the cold. It is at least as important to turn off all water pipes that lead outside. Otherwise the line could burst in severe frost. The water must also be drained from rain barrels and possibly fountains in order to avoid frost damage