Frost proof – preparing the garden for winter

Frozen shrub
Frozen shrub. Photo:

Now that the temperature has dropped it’s tempting to lock up the garden shed and head indoors, but a few hours of preparation now for the cold winter months gives you a head start when spring arrives, so that you can get busy planting rather than clearing out plants that haven’t survived the winter.

Continue tidying the borders

Continue clearing dead plants and cutting back perennials (but don’t be too tidy – seed heads are good for insects). Clear away debris that may harbour slugs and snails and rake up the last of the autumn leaves and make leaf mould with them. Once tidied, spread manure or a mulch to protect plants from hard frosts.The worms will work it in for you and your plants will come back happy and healthy next spring.

Soil care

Fork over vacant ground, turning soil several times to expose any soil pests to birds.


Avoid walking on the lawn.Send the lawn mower off for service to ensure it’s in good condition when next needed.

Protect and survive

Frost Protection Fleece
Frost protection fleece. Photo:

Move containers to more sheltered positions close to the wall of the house, and use pot feet to aid drainage. Bubble wrap or horticultural fleece helps prevent contents from freezing solid. Protect potentially tender plants, such as hardy fuchsias, with a deep mulch. Truss up tree fern foliage with straw tied around with string. Check stakes and ties on newly-planted trees.

Water works

Clean out gutters, downpipes and drains. Clean and disinfect water butts.


Wash your tools and sharpen those that need it. Dry thoroughly and oil metal parts to prevent rust. Oil wooden handles with linseed oil.


Remove all rubbish from the greenhouse and disinfect the staging. Scrub off any shade paint and ventilate to dry thoroughly. Wash pots and seed trays.

Sheds, Fences and Decking

Inspect for loose boards and posts. Check roofing felt and make minor repairs.


Lag taps and water pipes. Roll up the hosepipe and put it away

Pond care

Clear ponds of leaves and rubbish and add to the compost heap. Float a rubber ball on the surface (should ice form you can remove it and leave a breathing hole for fish, or melt a hole by standing a hot saucepan on the ice for a few minutes).

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