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Gardening Tips: Start planning to winterize garden accessories

Tuesday, September 29, 2015   by: Susan Richards

There are many objects in the garden that need attention before winter sets in: birdbaths, fountain, statuary, containers, garden furniture and other accessories.

With care, these items will grace the garden for many years to come.

How you handle for your garden accessories will depend on the material they are made from.

You deal with concrete differently than resin, metal, ceramic or wood.

Winter moisture, along with the freeze/thaw cycle that happens so often from late fall through early spring can be very damaging.

First of all, follow manufacturers’ recommendations for seasonal care.

Unfortunately, not everything you have in your garden comes with an instruction sheet.

If you do not have any guidelines to follow, here are some recommendations:

1. All fountains will need the pump removed before freezing temperatures arrive. It should be disconnect from the tubing, cleaned thoroughly and stored indoors in a bucket of water to ensure the longest pump life. The supplier recommends this to keep all pump seals supple.

2. Any water features that are light enough to move indoors can be cleaned, dried and store out of the weather. If you don’t have room in your house, they are fine in a garage or garden shed as long as they are kept dry.

Anything too heavy to move indoors should be covered for the winter. If left out in the elements, the repeated freezing and thawing of moisture that collects in fountain bowls, birdbaths, statues and other items can ruin the finish or cause them to crack.

Turn bowls on their sides so water drains away and ensure the base items are elevated out of the soil. If pieces are too large to tip, remove all moisture from each part (I find a shop-vac quite handy for this task), place dry, absorbent material in each bowl, then use a fountain cover or plastic to ensure that snow can not collect in any part.

NOTE: don’t use a coloured tarp that may transfer colour to the fountain over the winter!

3. All resin items should be cleaned and inspected before they are stored. The manufacturer recommends they be sprayed with clear-coat polyurethane to protect the finish. This may need to be done several times per year.

4. Metal décor, such as furniture, obelisks, arbours, lanterns, etc., are best stored in a dry place for the winter. Clean and inspect objects carefully for any rust that may develop. Use a wire brush to remove loose rust and touch up with matching Tremclad paint.

The manufacture does recommend that any metal items used outdoors be sprayed with a coat of clear Tremclad to protect the finish and prevent rust. If they are to big to move under cover or are incorporated into the garden, be sure to inspect them often for any signs of deterioration.

Deal with problems before winter sets in and be sure there is a protective coating on all exposed surfaces.

5. Most wooden items are fine outdoors year round as long as the wood is sealed. Cedar, teak and pressure-treated wood can be left to age naturally or treated with stain, teak oil or Thompson’s Water Seal. Pine and spruce should always be sealed. Be sure to treat any wood that is in constant contact with soil.

6. Ceramic containers should be brought in for the winter. This material will crack and crumble if left outdoors. The exception would be frost resistant ceramic pots. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for those.

7. Clay pots will also crack if left to freeze while filled with earth. Empty out all soil, clean them well and store inside. They can be left in outdoor sheds if they are stored dry.

8. Most fiberglass, plastic, metal and resin containers are fine outside all winter. These are the ones to use if you are looking for a year round display outdoors!

With appropriate care, the time and money you have invested in garden accessories with reward you with many years of use.

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