People think that at this time of year with the evenings getting shorter it is a time to forget about the garden. The opposite, in fact, is the case. This is an ideal time of year to plan ahead for next spring and summer.
It is the best time to prune and cut back overgrown trees and shrubs. It is best to cut back trees in the winter. Without leaves on the trees it is easier to see the branches you are cutting. Shrubs also respond better to pruning in the winter.
It ensures that the shrub is more compact and will withstand strong winter winds better. You may see that many hedgerows are being cut at this time of year.
This is because it is an offence under Irish Law to cut hedgerows between March 1 and August 31 each year. This is so nesting birds are left to rear their young in relative peace.
Winter is also the best time of year to purchase and plant trees. Trees are generally purchased in one of two ways. You either buy them growing in pots- known as ‘pot grown’ or as ‘bare rooted’. Pot grown trees, as the name suggests, have been growing in pots. ‘Bare rooted’ are trees that were growing in nursery fields but were dug up over the winter months for sale and for planting.
It is possible to do this because trees become dormant in the winter. In essence, they ‘fall asleep’. It is then possible to lift them out of the ground and prepare them for sale.
Both ways of purchasing trees have their advantages and disadvantages. The one big advantage of bare root trees is cost.
They cost far less to purchase than pot grown trees. However, they do have their drawbacks. Whereas pot grown trees can be planted at any time of year, bare root trees can only be planted during the winter months- ideally between November and March.
Another drawback is that they require more care. Because these bare root trees have been dug out of the ground they require more watering etc after they are planted. Also, once purchased, bare-root trees need to be planted into the ground within a few hours. The risk is that the roots will dry out. If this occurs there is a risk that the tree will be permanently damaged.
Winter is also the best, and cheapest, time of year to plant hedging plants. Hedging, such as Beech, Laurel and Hornbeam are cheapest to buy bare-rooted from the months November through to March. Planting at any other time of year would require them to be pot grown and would be considerably more expensive.
So, if like me, your garden is a work in progress, take advantage of any calm dry days and do your utmost to plan for next spring.
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