How to get your garden ready for winter

As we say goodbye to summer and roll out the welcome mat for autumn, there’s lots of things you can do to get ready. Autumn is the perfect time to get your garden good and ready for the cooler months ahead. 

So, to help you get your garden flourishing this fall, here are some autumn gardening tips:

Get your soil ready

Every garden starts with great soil, so one of your top priorities throughout Autumn should be ensuring your soil is in its best shape. You’ll want to start this care process by first protecting the soil throughout the colder months – even through it’s fairly warm in Australia over the winter, the dry air can affect your soil quality really quickly. To prevent this, add some organic matter (compost, manure, mulch, etc) to the surface. This will keep your soil (and the plants in it!) nice and healthy.

After this, you’re going to want to periodically aerate your soil. Grab a pitchfork (or long stick, the garden isn’t picky) and begin poking holes in the ground. This will help oxygen, water and the other nutrients in your organic matter penetrate deeper into the soil. This will also help attract worms, which will breakdown the organic matter into soil for you. From here, you should be good to go for spring!

Get partial to pruning

Autumn is one of the best times to prune your plants (other than spring, of course!). There’s still some growth left in your plants, but most will be coming to the end of their growing seasons. Pruning in autumn will allow your plants to enter winter without extra growth that could strain them throughout winter, and gives you a bit of a headstart on that spring pruning as well.

Take time to trim any hedges and shape native trees and shrubs. Plants In A Box gardeners recommend paying “particular attention to Grevillea, Westringia, Leucophyta and Thryptomene species, which will really benefit from an early autumn pruning”. 

When it comes to deciduous trees (which seasonally shed leaves), make sure you wait until they are fully dormant (ie. almost naked) before pruning. Pruning these trees too early (or too late) makes them susceptible to fungal attacks. As a quick aside, you will notice most plants going dormant throughout autumn/winter. The plants are conserving their energy and getting ready for spring, so you will notice an uptick in leaves on the ground, and less and less flowers around.

Water less

A happy bonus of autumn weather is a smaller amount of time you have to spend watering your indoor and outdoor plants. A traditional rule of thumb is that watering 2-3 times a week during autumn/winter is ideal, but if we have a particularly rainy period, you can reduce this down to once to twice a week. If you miss a watering session, you don’t need to be too concerned – just water for a little longer the next time.

Plant your evergreens, perennials and veggie patches

Autumn is the ideal time to plant evergreens, perennials and veggie patches because the weather is cool enough that the plants won’t be instantly fried, but the soil is generally warm enough to ensure that plants establish properly before winter. The best time to do this is after a few rainy days, when the soil is moist.

The ideal plants to be putting in during this period include many natives such as Blue Saphire or Native violet, and evergreens like Rosemary or Thyme. Other veggie patch favourites for this period include beetroot, peas, luttuce, and turnip, among many others. You’d also ideally want any brassicas (cabbage, kale, etc) in by the start of April in order to support their growth.

Autuumn is also a great time to plant your seeds. It’s always best to speak with your local horticuluturalist (or that friendly stranger at Bunnings) about what plants thrive best in your region over the autumn/winter period, but most areas in Australia can support a variety of plants over this period. Do a little research, and have fun!

Written: 2 April 2021

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