After a crazy winter of extreme rain, intense but short cold snaps, and a warm average temperature it’s no wonder confused plants are starting to bud already. Gardens need a good cold winter, partly to help keep pest numbers under control, and partly so plants and shrubs know where and when they are – just like us humans.

 

There are plenty of options for protecting your plants and shrubs over the winter. Stocking up on horticultural fleece, layering heavy mulch, insulating with straw, and moving any potted plants indoors to the greenhouse are all top tips.

 

So with weather like this, how can you help your garden stay healthy and ready for the real spring… whenever that might be?!

 

Waterlogging

After a winter like this one that has seen record amounts of rain fall over incredibly short periods, gardens all over the country are beset with mighty puddles of water that don’t have a chance to drain away before the next onslaught. Be assured that the odd downpour won’t cause that much damage – especially when plants are dormant during the winter. Persistent water logging however, can kill plants off due to the lack of nutrients reaching the roots and less available oxygen in the soil. If you live in an area with heavy clay soil, water logging can make matters worse by increasing compaction too.  If you have a temporary problem, the advice is not to worry too much as once everything has drained away your garden should be alright.

 

Frost damage

You will have already moved any particularly tender plants indoors for the winter. You might even have protected larger plants with horticultural fleece. A sharp frost though can wreak havoc in the garden no matter how many precautions you take. The good news is that most plants will recover in time. If you can, try to protect frost-damaged plants and shrubs from any sudden bright sunlight – just like humans, plants don’t like to be warmed up too quickly in extreme situations. When things have warmed up a bit, it can be a good idea to prune back to a new bud to remove the damaged section.

 

Snow

Lots of people love the snow. Lots of people, most certainly do not. Gardens however, have mixed feelings. For one, a good thick snow can act as an insulator and so can protect plants from the damaging effects of frost. But, that same thick layer can also cause breakages. After enjoying that fresh covering and taking a few photos for posterity, the best thing to do for your garden to prevent damage, is to remove any particularly excessive blankets of snow from tree branches, shrubs, and hedges. This way, everything should spring back into shape when the snow thaws. Don’t forget the greenhouse and cold frame – snow will block the light and anything growing underneath won’t be able to keep growing.

 

So, in summary, though a bit of careful pre-winter planning can make all the difference to the survival of your most vulnerable plants, hard frosts and heavy snow can and probably will damage plants and shrubs. Keep looking forward and remember that come the summer months, the gloom and despair will have melted away and be but a distant memory as you enjoy your garden in full bloom.