Garden bench covered in snow

Overwintering the patio

By David Domoney, February 01

Overwintering the patio

During the winter months we don't use the patio as much as in the summer. So now is the time to do a few simple jobs and maintenance to ensure everything gets through the winter without being damaged by the bad weather.

Plus, getting everything in order now gives you a head start when it comes to spring.

Clean the patio

Jet washing patioOne of the first things to do is to clean the patio. Now is a good time to get out and jetwash* the paving surface to clear away the stains.

You should also use an algaecide. Algae growing on the surface of patio will make it slippery and dangerous in wet, wintry weather. The last thing you want is to slip and fall while you're walking on the patio. Clean off the existing algae and dirt with a jetwash and stop it coming back by applying an algaecide.

Don't forget to spread some salt or grit over walkways when frost and snow is forecast. It means your patio will be clean and safe too.

*Bradstone does not recommend the regular use of jet/power washers on the decorative range of paving and walling, as this may affect the surface of the product over time.

Prepare your pots

Pots on patioNow is the time to protect tender or half-hardy plants that are growing in pots. Move them into a warmer spot to make sure they are shielded from frost. A greenhouse or unheated porch is ideal. Next, if you have any spare containers now is a good time to plant them up with hardy, colourful evergreens and winter-flowering plants.

Look out for flowering plants like pansies and cyclamen, colourful evergreens like heather and conifer and even berrying shrubs like gaultheria and pernettya.

The key thing with containers over winter is to prevent waterlogging. Soggy compost will rot and kill roots, so make sure excess rainwater can drain away. The top trick is to lift containers off the ground and onto pot feet. This creates a gap between the bottom of the pot and the ground to stop soil blockages.

You can buy pot feet from most garden centres. Or you can use wine corks – they are great at creating a gap to help water drain. The only problem is that if you have a lot of pots, you’re going to need to drink a lot of wine!

But you should also check containers that are up against the walls of your house. Because they sit underneath the eaves, they often don’t get as much rainfall as containers out in the open. If we have a dry spell you may need to water them over the winter.

Cover garden furniture

Now is also the time to prepare things like garden furniture and children’s toys to prevent damage over winter. It is always best to cover patio furniture unless it is aluminium or rattan. Make sure to bring in any cushions or soft furnishings.

If you are covering furniture, move it all into one area to save space. You can buy special covers in garden centres that are perfect for putting over the top. Make sure to tie it securely. If you can, pack away children's toys into the shed or garage. And remove any summer solar lights that you don't need over winter. It’s better to turn them off, pack them up and put them safely in the shed.

Finally, double check your garden security. The evenings are darker now and you aren't in the garden as much, so make sure everything is locked up tight. Put a proper outdoor lock on the shed and make sure external and security lights are working.

There you have it – a clean patio, covered furniture and security, plus a splash of winter colour in pots and containers. Your patio is tidy for winter and ready for spring!


David is a celebrity gardener and broadcaster. A regular face on ITV's Love Your Garden and the resident gardener for ITV's This Morning.

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