Top 5 Winter Gardening Mistakes

Are you guilty of over-loving your lawn and garden? Follow these 5 simple tips to ensure your garden is winter proof.

Winter can be hard going for plants, where heavy rain is known to saturate the soil and cause root rot, and prolonged periods of early morning frost can damage delicate leaves. Some gardeners use cold weather as the perfect excuse to take a well-earned break, while others are at risk of over-loving their lawn and garden by continuing with their usual regime. Just as nature adjusts to changing seasons, gardening specialist Adam Woodhams, recommends people do the same.

“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 Adam, who has teamed up with garden and lawncare expert Victa to provide vital garden care tips for the cooler months.

“During this time, lawns and gardens use up their stored energy reserves, making them more susceptible to diseases, weed invasion and over maintenance.”

If you are at risk of over-loving your lawn and garden this winter, follow these 5 simple tips to ensure your garden is winter proof.

1. Over-feeding

Nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are the three key plant nutrients which most species benefit from getting a boost of during the year. But apply them at the wrong time and not only do you waste fertiliser and money, but also risk those extra nutrients polluting storm water. In winter, plants grow slower, so less fertiliser is required to keep them fed. Overfeeding plants with nitrogen during winter also makes the leaves softer and more susceptible to disease, so reduce the frequency by half.

2. Overzealous pruning

It’s a well-known fact that well-pruned plants produce more flowers and fruit, and allow more light to reach your lawn. Pruning also invigorates many trees and shrubs because it leaves the plants with extra root and energy reserves to foster new growth on the remaining branches. However, some trees 'bleed' or ooze sap when pruned too much in winter. Avoid leaving stubs behind as they invite insects and disease to move in and attack healthy tissue. Also, refrain from hacking into it and instead cut to the tree's natural shape.

3. Over-watering

Go easy with your watering during winter. Low spots in the garden, trenches around trees, badly drained garden beds and uneven turf can potentially drown plants, cause root rot or stunt growth. Fungal problems caused by constantly wet turf will also result in dead patches down the track. Don’t spoil your lawn by over-watering – so unless it’s bone dry, avoid it altogether. Remember to adjust your watering schedule with the season and when there are significant changes in the weather.

4. Over-crowding

Money may not grow on trees but converting unused garden areas into a productive veggie patch is the next best thing. According to the Australia Institute, 52 per cent of Australian households grow their own food and 91 per cent of these agree it saves them money. It is tempting to throw entire packets of seeds in your garden beds, or sow a large variety to get the most out of your patch. However, sow too close together and you risk choking out all your plants and blocking much-needed winter light. A bit of breathing space will work wonders for your harvest. Also, avoid starting earlier than recommended as plants that get off to a weak start rarely recover.

5. Over-mowing

A lush, green lawn can be the pride of the street, and regular maintenance will keep it looking that way throughout the year. But before you jump on the mower to give it a good clip, make sure the grass surface is clear of leaves, twigs and sticks. Windy, wet weather can blow debris on to your lawn and potentially damage your mower. Switch your mower from mulch to catch mode as large patches of cuttings left behind may kill patches of lawn. Avoid mowing too often as lawn growth decreases substantially in winter. Depending on growth rates of different grasses, once every three to four weeks should suffice.

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