Winter gardening tips: from our garden to yours

The Pillar Garden at Hidcote, Gloucestershire

Gardens and growing spaces are still places of creativity, nature and new growth during the winter months.

There are plenty of jobs to get stuck into, including looking after wildlife, harvesting vegetables, pruning rose bushes or planning ahead for warmer days.

From top tips on winter gardening and harvesting to a video on pruning hedges, there's plenty to help you make the most of the season.

During the winter months, many plants are dormant, meaning there's less weeding and watering to be done. If you're still looking for jobs to do then there are normally always fences to repair, wildlife shelters to build and compost bins to maintain.

Winter is also a good time of year for pruning roses and moving dormant plants. It's also possible to plant some trees and shrubs if the ground isn't frozen. 

Or if the weather is really bad outside you can stay indoors and plant some microgreens or start planning your garden for spring.

The National Trust School of Gardening 

The National Trust School of Gardening is a book packed full of tips, ideas, guides and illustrations inspired by the places we care for. It has all the information you need to transform your own garden or growing space and is suitable for both new and experienced gardeners. To get a flavour of the book, we're sharing a video featuring the author Rebecca Bevan on a visit to Hidcote in Gloucestershire. 

Video

Hedges to impress

In this video, Rebecca Bevan, author of the National Trust School of Gardening, heads to Hidcote in Gloucestershire to find out how the gardeners are bringing the yew hedges back to their former glory. You'll also pick up some tips for pruning the hedges in your own garden.

School of Gardening

The National Trust School of Gardening  

From herbaceous borders to sustainable gardening, The National Trust School of Gardening is inspired by 300 years of horticultural history and top tips from our gardeners. With clear and practical advice for garden development and beautiful pictures, this guide is suitable for all experience levels. Buy a copy from our online shop.

Winter gardening jobs

Video

Helping the birds in winter

There are nearly 600 species of birds known in the UK, from resident garden birds to seasonal migratory visitors. Here are some top tips to help you keep your feathered friends happy during the winter months. Watch this video and wait for the birds to come.

Spot winter flowers

Preparing for spring

As days get longer and soil temperatures begin to rise, it’s time to prepare for the growing season ahead. If you’re starting out with a new garden or allotment, time spent planning and designing will pay dividends later when it comes to laying out and planting.

Layout and plant choices 

  • Start by planning paths and physical features, then trees, shrubs and plants.
  • Remember to allow space for composting, water collection, storage and wildlife havens.
  • Once you’ve decided on the layout, it’s time to think about plants. It’s important to think about both spatial and seasonal planning. For example, a vegetable plot needs to spread the workload and give a continuous supply of produce whereas an ornamental garden should provide interest throughout the seasons.  
  • There are lots of books and information sources online to help you draw up a list of plants that meet your garden's conditions and design requirements. These guides also help source the chosen species and cultivars.
  • It’s useful to produce a simple diary so that plants can be ordered and sown in good time. This planned approach is better than impulsive window shopping for whatever is looking good at the time at garden centres, particularly for plants that flower later in the year.
  • Remember also to buy peat-free plants and growing soil to protect precious peatland landscapes.

Propagating plants

For established gardens, it’s often best to propagate plants from existing ones. If you didn’t get around to lifting and dividing perennials in the autumn, late winter is also a suitable time to do this. It’s an effective and cost-free way to help fill your borders with plants. By swapping cuttings with your neighbours, you can also bring in new varieties and connect with fellow gardeners. 

Looking after wildlife 

Birds are also getting restless in anticipation of spring, and many species start looking for nesting sites from March onwards. Now’s the time to put out new boxes for both solitary and communal nesters such as house sparrows.
 

What's in season?

Meet the experts
Rebecca Bevan

Rebecca Bevan

Rebecca Bevan has been a Royal Horticultural Society advisor and has written for The Garden Magazine and the Telegraph. She has been a contributor on BBC Gardeners’ World and Gardeners’ Question Time. She also worked as a Gardens Researcher for the National Trust and is currently an independent consultant.

Pam Smith, Senior National Consultant for Gardens and Parklands

Pam Smith

As our Senior National Consultant for Gardens and Parklands, Pam Smith advises on horticulture and garden and landscape history. She first joined the National Trust as Regional Gardens Adviser. Before this she worked in public parks and gardens, including the University of Birmingham's botanic garden, where she was Director.