Some gardeners use cold weather as the perfect excuse to take a well-earned break from their garden. But not horticulturist, garden writer and TV presenter Melissa King. She says there’s little downtime for gardeners in winter despite it being a slow growth season. As the temperature drops, it’s time to prepare the garden for the onset of more stressful conditions to come.
Winter can be hard going for plants, where heavy rain can saturate the soil and cause root rot, and prolonged periods of early morning frost can damage delicate leaves – yet it’s important to maintain gardens over winter so you’re not faced with a jungle in spring, when nature jumps back to life.
“The onset of the cooler weather means that plant growth slows dramatically and has to tolerate not just the cold conditions, but also reduced daylight hours and often increased overshadowing,” says Melissa. “During this time, lawns and gardens use up their stored energy reserves, making them more susceptible to diseases and weed invasion.”
Here, Melissa shares her top tips and favourite garden tools to maintain the garden in winter and give it the best possible start to spring.
Winter is the perfect time to get stuck into pruning to promote healthy plant growth and an abundance of blooms next season. As a general rule, don't cut more than a third off a plant, and cut off roughly half of the growth in a neat, rounded shape.
You might like to prune to an outward facing bud, so the branches grow in a vase-like shape.
If you live in a frosty area, it’s often a good idea to wait until the risk of frost is over before pruning, so new shoots don't get damaged – particularly for roses.
Pictured above is a Cyclone Heavy Duty Bypass Pruner (RRP $24.98), with soft, comfortable over-mould handles for extra control when pruning. These are great for pruning live and green wood, but for more difficult branches that require extra reach and cutting power, try a Cyclone Bypass Ratchet Lopper with Telescopic Handles (RRP $69.98, below), which has a specialist ratchet-cutting mechanism to help reduce fatigue.