Summer is coming to an end in South Africa, and as we get ready to enjoy the rich beauty and colour that autumn has to offer, we take a look at a few tips and tricks to ensure your trees thrive through the cold, often frozen, winter months.
- It’s Pruning Time
Pruning should be done now, at the beginning of the Autumn. Start with your evergreens and hardy summer and autumn flowering trees and hedges once they have finished flowering to prep them for the winter months. Be sure not prune too much, or you may not have any regrowth in summer.
- Composting and Mulch
Ensure that your plants and trees have all the nutrients and root protection they need by spreading compost and mulch all around your garden. The falling autumn leaves can be repurposed on the compost heap or as part of mulch.
Mulching has the added advantage of keeping heat in the soil, which in turns benefits plants and trees and the development of their roots, while ensuring that life giving nutrients in the compost stays in the soil.
Remember to leave space between the mulch and the trunks of your trees to prevent moisture building up around the trunk and leading to wood rot. Create a donut shaped ring around each trunk to achieve that.
- Water the garden earlier in the day
Even though we still have the benefit of a warm South African sun in Gauteng, the days are still getting shorter, and the Southern part of Africa is tilting away from the sun, which leads to colder temperatures for us.
Watering your garden earlier will ensure that the water spreads evenly through the soil before the colder night temperatures set in. This will ensure that plant and tree roots remain toasty warm throughout the night.
- Inspect for Pests and Disease
Ants are feverishly gathering food for the winter, and other insects might still be quite active, so be sure to check you trees for signs of disease or infestation as you prune them. If you have a compost heap – remember not to add any of these diseased or infested branches to it.
- Plant now
In most parts of South Africa, the sun is still quite hot, so the soil temperature is still quite warm. Trees and shrubs need to establish their roots after planting and for that, some heat is needed, so be sure to plant any trees and shrubs as soon as possible – no later than May.
Contrary to popular belief, plants actually grow in winter. They adjust their objectives and focus their energy more on developing roots during colder months. By planting now, your plants and trees can start establishing a strong root system and by the time spring comes, they will have a better chance at flourishing.
- Protect your Plants
The temperatures are already dropping, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather to ensure that you protect plants and trees that might not do well in lower temperatures. You can do this in many ways with hessian and cloth by wrapping plants and tree trunks that might need protection and keeping them snug and warm through the winter months.