It’s June once again, and while most people may be getting their tans at the beach or perhaps enjoying an ice-cold cocktail or two, we from the Land Down Under are typically making winter preparations. Aside from cosying up the house and planning on what warm meals and beverages to serve, those of us who have gardens also have additional responsibilities, and that is to make sure that our plants thrive and get through the season—however fleeting it may be. For the month of June, we present WINTER IS COMING: Maintaining and Preparing your Garden for Winter.
PLANT SOME WINTER BLOOMS
Before you start digging a hole to put in your new seedlings, take note that the winter climate may vary depending on which area of Australia you are from. It’s a rule of thumb to do your research first to increase your plant’s chances of survival as each has its own different weather and temperature preferences in which they can grow best. For instance, here in areas with a temperate climate, such as Sydney, it doesn’t really snow much, so go for flowers like grevilleas that bloom during winter and even tolerate dry conditions. Moreover, now is also the best time to plant vegetables such as cabbage, garlic, onions, and lettuce—aside from June being their ideal planting season, you can even use your harvest as ingredients for a hearty veggie stew!
As follows are more planting suggestions for other Australian regions with a different winter climate:
ADD A LAYER OF MULCH
This is a tip that we have also mentioned in one of our recent blog posts. As was written, mulching is the process of covering garden soil with biodegradable materials. It is a sustainable gardening habit that helps retains moisture, and in turn, conserves water. Setting this aside, though, a layer of mulch can also come in handy during the colder seasons as it acts like a blanket that will help warm plant roots and stabilise their temperature. Since most plants go into hibernation during winter, mulching will keep them from receiving bouts of sunlight that might trigger new growth and eventually just die out. Lastly, applying mulch mid-to-late winter will significantly reduce the number of weeds that you will have to remove once the warmer seasons start kicking in.
PRO TIP: In the case that you don’t have any available mulch, you can also protect your plants by moving potted ones to warmer areas of your garden as well as covering them with burlap sacks, thick fabric, or designated frost protection cloth.
MANAGE SOIL COMPACTION
Apart from the drop in temperature, winter also brings some much-needed rain to specific regions. This is definitely a blessing as it means less irrigation, and therefore, lower water bills, but too much rain could also lead to soil compaction. In order to combat this, you will need to perform aeration, which is the process of making holes in the soil to allow for the entry of air, water, and essential nutrients. This can be done either by using electric or mechanical lawn aerators. However, if you want to take it up a notch and save some bucks, you can just opt to get aerator shoes instead. Just put them on and go walk all over your yard!
Plus, if you’ve only got a small or medium yard, anyway, aerator shoes would definitely be the practical choice. Affordability aside, they require no skills and are quite easy to clean in comparison to machines.
PRO TIP: Aeration should only be done when the is not dormant, so choose whether to do it before or after winter. The most recommended time to aerate your lawn is during fall.
SKIP THE FERTILISERS
Most plants go into dormancy and have slower growth rates during the cooler months, so even though it’s common knowledge that fertilisers aid in providing plants with the nutrients that they need, you might want to skip fertilising your plants for now, as doing so can actually do more harm than good. Winter is a time for plants to just rest, and besides, new growth induced by fertilisation might not make it through below-freezing temperatures anyway.
PRO TIP: If you really think that your plants need to be fertilised, though, there are commercially available fertilisers that are specifically created for application during winter. The formulation is a bit different compared to regular ones, as this variant contains higher levels of iron to strengthen your plants and help them get through the season.
CONTINUE TO WATER
Dormancy does not equate to being dead, so despite your plants looking drab and not like their typically lush selves, it is crucial that you continue to keep on watering them as they still have metabolic functions that require hydration, and their roots have the tendency to dry if you don’t. Do know, though, that they wouldn’t be needing as much water as they would during more active periods. Furthermore, overwatering would likely clog the soil and prevent air, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots, which could ultimately kill the plant altogether.
As for the best time to water, we suggest doing so early in the morning as water in the soil effectively trap heat that would protect plants from freezing. Additionally, watering at night poses serious risks that could kill your plant. For one, it might create an artificial frost due to the lack of heat needed for evaporation, so it’s imperative that you do the watering in the morning or at least early afternoon. This gives the water the chance to seep efficiently into the soil before nighttime.
And…that’s a wrap for this month’s blog! Have you got anything that you want to be done in your garden before the cold actually starts to hit? Give us a call at 1300 916 767, and we’ll see what our dedicated team here at Inside Out Landscaping can do.