Winter is a time when the garden appears to be taking a well-earned rest.
While ornamentals and the lawn begin their winter dormancy, there are other plants ready to take advantage of the harsh conditions of winter.
Broadleaf weeds in lawn fall into this category and now is a good time to reduce their impact. Simple cultural practices can prevent weed infestation in lawn or at least limit their spread.
Lawns that were well maintained with regular fertilizing and irrigation over the summer months are less likely to suffer weed problems over winter.
Flat weeds such as dandelion, cat's ear and plantain are quick to invade a tired and rested lawn as is winter grass, particularly if the lawn has been scalped through mowing too low.
Mower blades should be raised for the last cut of the season with the aim to leave a sward length of approximately 25mm on kikuyu lawns and for the soft leaf buffalo varieties leave up to 40mm sward length.
This will ensure enough cover to prevent many of the flat weeds that invade turf over winter from being able to germinate and establish.
Carry out mower maintenance before rolling it off to the shed for winter hibernation. Remove the spark plug lead before cleaning, clean under the deck and base plate thoroughly by scraping away built-up lawn clippings and spray the base plate and deck with a water dispersant spray to prevent corrosion.
Drain the fuel tank and replace the spark plug. Clean or replace oil filters on four stroke mowers. Replace worn blades and finally, wipe over all surfaces.
Winter provides gardeners the opportunity to look at some plants stripped naked of foliage giving an unimpeded view of their structural framework. This is beneficial when it comes to pruning some trees and shrubs into a more productive form with ease.
Service pruning tools ready for the traditional winter clean up by sharpening and replacing worn blades as required. Power tools such as chainsaws should also be serviced prior to any heavy winter pruning jobs.
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Make the most of your winter garden and increase the time you can spend in it by modifying the areas you have to make them more useable.
Areas that are north facing are the ideal position for entertaining as they capture the winter sun.
A fire pit or chiminea can be installed either permanently or temporarily providing the perfect spot to rug up, with family or friends and enjoy some old-fashioned story telling.
- John Gabriele is a horticulture teacher with a love for green spaces.