Tidying Up Your Borders at the End of Winter

At some point between Autumn and the end of Winter, when the flowers and foliage have died down, it’s commonly held best practice to give your ornamental borders and beds a thorough cleaning.

Of course, if you love the wild look and want to encourage wildlife (including slugs, or “homing frog lunches”, as I think of them privately to myself when no one is looking, given a slug’s tendency to seek shelter where my frogs and toads are lurking), then step “one and done” here is to do nothing and relax, the plants will all be fine…

But if only to keep gardeners in business, teenagers in pocket money, and marriages in harmony, we clean our beds and borders in order to:

  • Remove weeds (get on top of them early before they can make roots or seeds!)
  • Destroy pests
  • See what’s growing, and as needed: pot up seedlings, move or remove plants, divide perennials
  • Spread mulch (wood / bark chips, compost, lawn clippings if you have them yet, etc)
  • Edge the lawn crisply, maintaining a mini “cliff” at the lawn edge where possible
  • Tidy up! Some annuals & perennials provide winter interest with their dead stems, but anything that looks messy can go & by the end of winter, it’s almost all messy (apart from grasses: you are always perfect, and when you aren’t, I just set fire to you)

The last week of February is a bit late to deliberate whether to have your big clean in Autumn or late Winter.
A big part of the answer will be what you’re growing, when you have time / energy, and your preferences around what makes your garden look nice for you: I love seeing everything freshly wood chipped (I exclusively use freely delivered conifer woodchips with all the pine needles, and no, it does not acidify the soil) around the base of everything, crisply up to the lawn edge.

Pondering the Autumn vs late Winter question is Gardener Scott in Colorado (much like Croydon, but bigger):

So here we are in late winter, your garden is a “picturesque jumble of gently maturing vegetable matter”, you can see where all the spring bulbs are, and it’s time to tidy up before everything starts to leaf out.

Martin The Garden Guy is the guy to take you through this clean-up-makeover featuring some of the most popular, reliable plants in British gardens:

You’ll see him edge the lawn like a gentleman with those elegant shears, and if you have a strimmer, you can use it vertically to much the same effect (if you pop the guard off it’s easier to see what you’re doing: wear an appropriate face shield etc).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top