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Get it right: Winter gardening in South Africa

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
White River Manor Country style garden by Principia Design Country
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You may think that winter is the perfect time to give your green fingers a rest, yet there are many plants and veggies that thrive during this chilly team of the year. And depending on where in South Africa you find yourself, professional Gardeners and Landscape Architects can either be slowing down for winter, or speeding up their work to maintain clients’ winter gardens.

And just in case you were wondering what you can do to tie your garden over until spring arrives, read on! 

1. Change your garden layout

Winter reveals the bones of your garden with (most of) its leaves and florals stripped away – the perfect opportunity to consider another layout. 

If you live in a region with dry winters (i.e. Free State), maybe think about what a new pergola (or archway, or pathway, or differently designed beds) can mean for your garden come spring.

2. Get pruning

White River Manor Country style garden by Principia Design Country
Principia Design

White River Manor

Principia Design

For many plants, the best time for pruning is when they’re dormant. Apples, pears, and many roses fall into this category – fail to prune in winter and you’ll be pruning for failure after winter. 

3. Plant some winter annuals

Vibrant water wise planting Modern Garden by Acton Gardens Modern
Acton Gardens

Vibrant water wise planting

Acton Gardens

There’s no reason why your garden needs to be a dead oasis for 3+ months every year. Seeds of petunia, dianthus, African daisy, Bokbaai vygie, Iceland poppies, violas, pansies, foxgloves, and snapdragon have proven to be quite hardy to frost! 

4. Tidy it up

Thinking of gardening as “basically cleaning outside and just as satisfying” is a great mindset, specifically during winter. So, see the next few months as an opportunity to zhoosh up your outdoor spaces by keeping it as neat and clean as possible via raking, pruning, etc. 

5. Keep your tools clean

AWARD WINNING SHOW GARDEN 2018 Rustic style garden by Young Landscape Design Studio Rustic
Young Landscape Design Studio


Young Landscape Design Studio

Now’s the ideal time to give your gardening tools a decent cleaning before spring arrives, particularly the more popular ones like rakes, pruners, watering cans, etc. This should be considered vital for everyone with a garden since pots, spades, shoes and glass panes all house various pests (fungal, viral, and bacterial), not to mention insects. 

The more tools you have, the more time you’re going to have to devote to this one. 

6. Protect from the cold and frost

House Oranjezicht Scandinavian style garden by ATTIK Design Scandinavian
ATTIK Design

House Oranjezicht

ATTIK Design

If your area is prone to frost in winter, be sure not to plant anything that’s not frost hardy unless you’re prepared to go the extra mile in terms of maintenance and protection. Plants susceptible to frost need to be covered with lightweight horticultural fleece which can be picked up from garden centres.

But what about those branches, leaves and shrubs that are already beginning to show signs of frost? Whatever you do, don’t cut them off. Rather leave them until the most dangerous time for frost has passed, as they help to protect the plants from additional winter damage. 

7. Spruce up a little indoor garden

It’s not uncommon to find households with more interior plants than outside ones. So, see winter as the ideal time to turn your attention to the potted pretties inside your house. Talk to them (as you normally would), give them a once over for issues, tidy up those dead leaves, ensure they get as much (or as little) sun as they need, and consider re-potting them towards the end of winter. 

Speaking of indoor gardens, This is how you keep your houseplants alive in winter

How will you be keeping your garden (or indoor plants) alive and well this winter?
Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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