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Love to spend time outside? Wondering how best to take care of your garden during the harsh winter months?

Whether you consider yourself to be totally green-fingered or you just like to keep your garden neat and tidy for summer barbecues and family gatherings, we’re on hand to help. Read on for our top tips on preparing your garden for winter to ensure everything is in good shape when next summer rolls around.

Protect your outside taps
If you have the option to isolate your outdoor tap, winter is definitely the time to do it. Switch it off at the stop tap and drain the faucet to prevent potential damage to the tap – or even worse, a burst pipe in icy weather conditions. If it’s not possible to isolate your tap, use insulation to cover up any exposed pipes, and don’t forget to add a tap cover.

Rake up the leaves
Prevent slips and reduce the risk of injuries by removing fallen leaves from your garden paths or walkways. And there’s no need to just dispose of them – why not make good use of them by repurposing them into compost? The final product can be added to soil and borders to help nourish your garden. If you have a compost heap or bin already, you can simply pop any leaves that you collect in there. Or, if you have a lot of leaves to dispose of, you could consider putting them into a big biodegradable or compostable leaf bag instead.

Prune your plants
Hopefully you remembered to make time in November to cut back the stems of plants like roses, wisteria and deciduous shrubs. If you did, this should help to prevent wind-rock setting in over winter. But you’ll still need to do a little more work in the early part of the year. In January or February, spend time carrying out some more winter pruning. You’ll need to cut back the plants by about 50%, removing any diseased, damaged or dead stems as you go.

Protect your shrubs
You wouldn’t venture outside without a coat in the cold winter months – so why should your plants?! Give your potted plants a little bit of extra warmth by wrapping them up cosy in a layer of bubble wrap. Worried about the aesthetics? Trying adding hessian for a rustic look – not to mention a further layer of protection from the elements.

Lawn care
If your garden has a large lawned area, consider buying, renting or borrowing a motorised scarifier for hassle-free removal of any moss and thatch. For smaller lawns, a springbok rake will do the trick, too. Next, aerate the lawn with a garden fork before adding a sand-based top dressing to ensure better drainage and an improved soil structure. Finally, pop to your local garden centre and invest in an autumn lawn feed – this will provide your turf with all the essential nutrients it needs to develop strong roots.

Welcome the wildlife
Give a little thought for the creepy crawlies living in your garden – you could build an insect home or bug hotel. Alternatively, leave a selection of uncut herbaceous perennials to help beetles to survive the harsh winter weather. Bees and other insects are bound to earn their keep by pollinating your plants and enriching the soil.

Don’t forget to feed the birds, too. Our feathered friends need us more than ever during winter, so fill up your bird feeder and water baths. And if you’re planning on lighting a winter bonfire, be sure to check for hedgehogs and any other furry friends before you get the fire started.

Give your garden furniture a little TLC
Whether it needs a deep clean, general repairs or sanding and treating, chances are you’re probably not going to be using your garden furniture for a good few months. This makes winter the ideal time to carry out any required maintenance, ensuring everything is in tip-top condition for the (hopefully!) warmer spring and summer months. Where possible, remember to store garden furniture undercover afterwards, ideally in a shed or garage.

Putting in a little effort now is sure to make your life easier when springtime arrives – leaving you plenty of time to concentrate on ways to brighten up your garden when the weather is better.