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Mid-October. The nights are getting longer and colder. It is not long now until the first frost. The plants are preparing for winter and switch into overdrive. Now is the right time to winterise all plants in the garden, on the balcony or on the terrace. Take enough time for this so that your plants survive the winter unharmed and you can enjoy them again in spring.
Mow the lawn in good time before the onset of winter. Not too short, it is best to cut it to a height of five or six centimetres. Then rake thoroughly to remove moss and leaves. The lawn gets more light and air and should therefore not rot, mould or decay. Fertilise the lawn or sprinkle it with lime so that it receives sufficient nutrients. Do not compost the leaves yet. You may need it to protect plants from frost - or as winter shelter for animals.
Trim back fruit trees, bushes and shrubs and remove dead, leafless, diseased or too long branches. It is best to do this close to the trunk and before the first frost, so that the cuts still have time to close. You do not need to prune spring-flowering plants such as forsythia or weigelia. Flowering shrubs that flower for several years should be cut back as soon as their leaves turn brown. Cut back roses to two thirds and cover them, for example with spruce twigs. Hedges should be cut thinner, smaller and in shape and freed from diseased or broken branches. Leave grasses or ferns, they are a popular winter home for small animals.
Check the gutter and remove leaves and moss that block the drain. With a protective grid, you protect the gutter and save yourself the tedious work. In the worst case, a blocked drain can lead to water damage.
The branches you cut off are usually too coarse for the compost heap and rot only slowly. However, you can usefully reuse them. Cut them into small pieces or chop them up and use them to mulch the soil. This improves the soil quality and protects the roots of frost-sensitive plants. Non-hardy bulbs such as begonias or dahlias should be left in a cool, dry place for the winter. First cut the stems short, carefully dig up the whole root with a spade without damaging it and shake off the soil. Then bury the tubers in a box with sand and put them in the cellar, for example.
The tubers of early flowering plants such as hyacinths, crocuses, snowdrops or tulips must be planted before the first frost.
The flower bed and vegetable patch give little to do. You only need to cut back the plants that have died or wilted. You do not have to dig up the beds, there is time for that in spring. If you want, you can mix fresh humus into the humus so that it can mature and strengthen the plants as soon as they sprout in spring. If you have leaves left over, you can use them to cover the beds and protect the plants from the cold or enrich the soil with valuable nutrients. You can also cover kitchen herbs, such as lavender, rosemary or sage, with fir or spruce branches.
Sensitive plants such as oleanders or olive trees, but also balcony boxes with fuchsias or geraniums should be brought indoors as late as possible, but before the first frost. They feel most comfortable in a cool place, for example in the cellar. Tropical plants and plants from the Mediterranean region need more light than others.
Leave plants outside that are too big, too heavy or tolerate frost to a certain extent. However, you must protect them from the frost, especially their cold-sensitive roots:
Plants that keep their leaves in winter need as much light as possible.
Finally, you must clean, repair and oil all garden tools and store them in the garden shed, cellar or garage in a dry and frost-free place. Electrical devices such as the water pump in the pond should be taken out of the water, cleaned and also stored in a dry place. If you have water connections in your garden, on your balcony or on your terrace, you must turn off the supply line in the cellar to avoid frost damage.
Also think about your garden, patio or balcony furniture and the barbecue. Before winterising, it is worth cleaning the barbecue thoroughly with a brush, especially the grate.