The winter garden

The aesthetic appeal of a property can vastly affect its perceived value. A home that has kerb appeal and is attractive from the outside will entice potential buyers to step in and have a look.

While winter is generally the time when the garden looks a little drab, there are a few ways to keep it looking its best this season, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Have a plan

Preparing the garden for the colder months will not only keep it looking good, but will protect less hardy plants and make the garden easier to work during spring. As with any project it is advisable to take a few moments to formulate a plan before breaking ground.  The autumn months are an ideal time to evaluate the overall design of the landscape and move or remove plants if they are not working in their current location.  Autumn is also the perfect time for dividing perennial plants and spreading them throughout the garden. This will maintain their health and ensure greater coverage during spring. If homeowners decide to plant additional plants, shrubs, trees and bulbs generally do well if planted before winter. Many hardier shrubs will thrive and use the winter months to build a bigger root system.

Clean up the garden

As the days turn colder more and more leaves fall from the trees, it is an excellent opportunity to start a compost heap if the homeowner does not already have one. Keep the garden tidy by raking the leaves and removing weeds or other diseased plants. Throw leaves and cuttings into the compost heap and discard the weeds. Putting the weeds in with the compost will only create further problems in the future.

Hard-scaping elements

The introduction of hard-scaping elements will reduce areas of the garden that require watering while still maintaining the gardens’ aesthetic value. Items such as birdbaths and stepping-stone pathways can add interest and become central features of the landscaping design.


A layer of mulching will insulate plants, protecting them from severe temperature changes during the winter months. It will also reduce any soil erosion. Mulching is only necessary for more delicate plants, while hardier plants should be able to survive the winter months without it. Smaller plants that are in movable containers should be moved to an indoor location, while larger container plants can be covered with a layer of mulch.

Shape trees and shrubs

With many of the leaves gone, it is much easier to shape and trim trees and shrubs, removing dying or diseased branches. This is also a chance to lighten areas in the garden that are heavily shaded and would benefit from more light during warmer seasons.

Cut back perennial plants

During the cold months the majority of perennial plants can look tired and messy, making the garden look untidy, so cut them back to neaten the garden. Certain perennials such as evergreen or alpine types will still be attractive, so they can be left to grow.
“Proper garden preparations will enhance the look of the property during the winter months as well as ease the daunting task of garden preparation in the spring. It is worth spending some extra time in your garden during autumn to ensure it looks its best this winter,” Goslett concludes.

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