Winter Gardening Jobs
It might seem that winter is all about grey skies and colourless gardens but actually, it’s really about renovation and rejuvenation. Sure, the cold weather is causing the plants to stop growing, the leaves to fall and the herbaceous borders to die down and the garden will be looking decidedly bare and probably quite shabby but this few months in its cycle allows the garden to cope with the coldest days and frosty nights and prepares it for spring when it will burst back to life with new foliage, fabulous flowers and wonderful colour.
JOBS IN THE GARDEN
Whilst it might be tempting to stay rugged up on the sofa with a hot cocoa on a cold winters’ day, in fact there is plenty to do in the garden and getting out into it will leave you feeling energetic and give you a sense of achievement. Winter is the best time of the year to tidy, prune and reassess the garden. Then, when that’s all done, you can happily curl up with a great garden magazine to give you inspiration for the next lot of planting for the warmer months. Here are some jobs to get you started:
- Turn off sprinklers in Perth, Mandurah and other parts of the southwest. In WA, the state government imposes a complete sprinkler ban from June 1 through to August 31. The ban also applies to garden bores and some licensed bores used for schools, government departments and businesses. Hand watering is still permitted and those establishing new lawns or gardens can apply for an exemption.
- Clean your gutters. Deciduous trees would have dropped all their leaves onto the roof and then into the gutters. These become wet and block the flow of water, potentially overflowing into the roof line and causing damage to ceilings and walls.
- Reduce watering to all potted plants, even those inside or under cover. Providing too much when they don’t need it may cause diseases and root rot. Keep indoor plants away from heaters.
- Move potted plants that prefer warm weather into more protected spots in the garden such as under the verandah or porch. Spray them with a leaf polymer to help protect them from the cold.
- Provide plants that are very susceptible to the cold or frosts with a winter jacket by constructing a frame and every night throwing over an old blanket or piece of plastic. Remove it again in the morning so that they can get the sun.
- Install a rainwater tank early in winter to capture as much of the rain as possible ready for the long hot summer.
- Winter is a good time to work on clay soils. Dig gypsum into clay where possible which will bind the particles allowing air to get into the spaces in between. Create surface drains to carry away excess rain.
- When planting young seedlings in winter, blood and bone is too slow to break down in the cold temperatures. Use a liquid fertiliser instead to give them the boost they need.
- Fertilise winter flowering bulbs such as jonquils when the first buds appear. Continue fertilising until flowering ends to ensure a good display next year.
- Liquid fertilise kangaroo paws.
- Leafy winter vegetables will benefit from an all purpose plant food.
- Cut back herbaceous perennials, including chrysanthemums. Many will already be shooting from their base so leave this new growth and cut off all twiggy branches and old foliage above it. Don’t worry, they will grow back.
- Prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Mulch the branches and leaves for the compost.
- Prune roses in mid June to early July.
- Winter is a great time to tend to the garden tools. Clean and sharpen hand tools. Spray moving parts with a lubricant and use linseed oil on wooden handles. Check that handles are secure on shovels, mallets and picks.
- Put the lawnmower in to be serviced and to have its blades sharpened. Wash gardening gloves and check all personal protective equipment.
- Check all chemicals in the garden shed. Check all use-by-dates and remove any products in damaged packaging. Discard any old poisons or those that are unlabelled. Garden chemicals cannot be thrown in the bin or poured down the drain. Contact the local council to find out how to dispose of them safely.
- The compost heap should be quite large after the autumn prunings were added. Check to make sure that it is not getting too wet and place an old canvas over it if necessary.
- Keep an eye on the pond. Falling leaves may be causing the water to turn murky so stretch a net over the surface to catch them first. Overhanging foliage could be limiting light getting to the pond and should be pruned back.
- If clumping plants such as agapanthus haven’t been divided yet, do them now. Doing this will help to fill in the empty spots in the garden at almost no cost.
- Winter is a great time to shape and style some bonsai such as juniper, New Zealand Christmas bush and azalea.
- There is no point fertilising lawns in winter as their roots won’t take up the nutrients. Instead, wait until the weather warms in spring.
- Prune grape vines and spray them immediately after with lime sulphur fungicide.
- Take cuttings of fuchsias.
- Plant asparagus in winter and cut back established plants to ground level after their leaves have turned brown.
- Most deciduous fruit trees should receive their winter prune to cut back last year’s growth by about one third and correct any structural problems. However, for areas prone to early spring frost, it is best to delay pruning until late September. Be sure to prune according to the needs of the variety.
- Don’t prune frost damaged shrubs and trees until the danger of further frosts has passed.
PROBLEMS IN THE GARDEN
Here are some of the problems to look out for in winter:
- Check lawns for fungal diseases such as dollar spot. Spray with fungicide if necessary.
- Treat bindii in lawns as soon as seedlings start to appear to stop them getting out of control in spring.
- Lawn grubs and adult lawn beetles begin to emerge in winter. Control them before their damage appears in the lawn.
- Watch out for winter grass. It’s easy to deal with by using “wintergrass killer”.
- Caterpillars may still be around. These pests will eat the vegies before you get the chance to. Low toxic treatments based on naturally occurring bacteria are the best option and are easy to apply.
- As the rains begin, protect plants from snails and slugs using pet-friendly snail bait. These have a nasty taste to deter cats and dogs. Don’t pile them up making it easy for the pet to swallow many before they figure out that they taste horrible. Instead spread 8 pellets every square metre which is plenty to control these pests.
- Keep an eye out for aphids in the vegie patch.
- Check indoor plants for mealy bug and scale. If there are problems, download our “Caring for Indoor Plants” fact sheet to find out what to do.
- Deal with weeds now before they get out of control. Our “Coping with Weeds” fact sheet will help.
- Watch for rust on mint. This appears as brownish bumps on the underside of the leaves. Cut the plant right down to the ground and collect up all foliage, wrap in a plastic bag and place in the bin. Water the plant with liquid seaweed and cover with a few centimetres of fresh potting mix. The mint will show new foliage within a few days.
- Two spotted mite can affect azaleas, camellias, anemones, herbs and many other plants in the garden. They appear as tiny red dots that shelter from the rain under the leaves causing them to turn a silver colour. Rake up fallen leaves as these can also harbor mite.
If pests and diseases do affect your plants, bring a sample into any Better Pets and Gardens.
Our staff will identify the problem and offer advice on dealing with it.
BULBS TO PLANT IN WINTER
Bulbs planted in late autumn-winter will flower in spring and summer and those planted towards the end of winter will provide colour throughout summer. Here are some to consider planting in winter:
Alstroemeria, Canna, Lily of the Valley, Polianthes, Gladiolus, Hippeastrum, Gleriosa, Iris, , Day lily, Belladonna lily, Lilium, Jacobean lily, Red Hot Poker, Spider lily, Autumn Crocus, Calla
Early winter is the time to plant trees, shrubs, hedges, ground covers and winter flowering annuals.
- Plant roses, shrubs and deciduous trees.
- Winter-flowering shrubs add winter colour. Now is the time to choose camellia, daphne, magnolia and wattle.
- Plant bare-rooted deciduous trees and shrubs.
- Plant virus-free strawberry runners and fruit trees.
- Plant for winter colour. Visit the seedling section at the nursery and select brightly coloured annuals to give pots and garden beds a cheerful look.
- Plant lilium bulbs.
- Plant potatoes. Pick up the “Growing Potatoes” fact sheet from any Better Pets and Gardens store.
- Plant coriander, Asian greens and other vegetables. Get the kids to help out and they may be more willing to give them a go when they are ready to harvest.
- Don’t plant basil until the beginning of September or once the night time temperatures are consistently over 10°C.
Protect newly emerging seedlings from frost by building a temporary cover of plastic or by starting them in a mini-hothouse in a warm part of the garden. Take the cover off if the weather turns warm or once seedlings have grown their second set of leaves. Be careful not to let them dry out.
WINTER PLANTING GUIDE FOR TEMPERATE AREAS (South of Geraldton)
Artichoke, asparagus crowns, beetroots, cabbages, capsicums, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbages, lettuce, mustard, spring onions, onions, parsnip, peas, potatoes, Silverbeet, zucchini.
Candytuft, English daisy, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, Mignonette, nasturtium. Spider flower, statice.
WINTER PLANTING GUIDE FOR SUBTROPICAL AREAS (Between Geraldton and Carnarvon)
Asparagus, beans, beetroots, broad beans, broccoli, cabbages, capsicums, carrots, Chinese cabbages, cress, cucumbers, endive, herbs, lettuces, melons, mustard, spring onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb crowns, shallots, Silverbeet, spinach, tomatoes.
Ageratum, alyssum, ameranthus, Aurora daisy, aster, begonia, boronia, calendula, California poppy, candytuft, carnation, celosia, chrysanthemum, cockscomb, coleus, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia (seed), dianthus, everlasting daisy, gaillardia, gazania, geranium (seed), gerbera, nasturtium, ornamental chilli, petunia, phlox, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon, statice, strawflower, Swan River daisy, verbena, viscaria, waratah, zinnia.
WINTER PLANTING GUIDE FOR TROPICAL AREAS (North of Carnarvon)
Asparagus, beans, beetroots, broccoli, cabbages, capsicums, carrots, Chinese cabbages, cress, cucumbers, endive, herbs, lettuces, melons, mustard, spring onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb crowns, shallots, Silverbeet, spinach, tomatoes.
Ageratum, alyssum, ameranthus, Aurora daisy, aster, begonia, boronia, calendula, California poppy, carnation, celosia, chrysanthemum, cockscomb, coleus, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia (seed), dianthus, everlasting daisy, gaillardia, gazania, geranium (seed), gerbera, nasturtium, ornamental chilli, petunia, phlox, portulaca, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragon, statice, strawflower, sunflower, Swan River daisy, verbena, viscaria, waratah, zinnia.
- Edible Gardens
- Garden Care & Maintenance
- Garden Visitors
- Pests & Diseases
- Plants & Flowers
- Rose Pruning in Winter
- Wine Barrel Gardens
- Gardening in a New House
- Caring for Indoor Plants
- Making a Garden in Lawn
- Growing Annuals for Colour
- Cacti and Succulents
- Australian Native Plants
- Growing Wisteria
- Raised Garden Beds
- Hanging Baskets
- Planting Hedges
- Maintaining Bonsaii
- Transplanting Shrubs
- Flanders Poppies – How to Grow
- Propagating Seeds & Cuttings
- Seasonal Gardening Jobs
- Soil, Compost & Mulches
- Waterwise & Sustainable Gardening