Getting ready for autumn, for the majority of us, means looking forward to curling up with a cosy blanket and a steaming mug of hot chocolate. But don't head indoors until you've run through our checklist of essential garden jobs. Come spring, you'll be glad you did.
STARTING FROM THE GROUND UP
- 1. Get the mower out - Grass will grow more slowly over the winter months, but it won't stop completely. In a rainy climate autumn often brings increased rainfall, and waterlogging will make mowing a challenge even before the winter frosts set in, so be on the lookout for a dry day to tick this one off the list.
2. Deal with worm casts - While worms themselves can actually be good for your garden -
- aeratingthe soil without you having to lift a finger - the little piles of earth they leave behind on the lawn can be a real bugbear. Chances are, you'll start to notice these reappearing from around September onwards. Left alone as the weather gets wetter, they can make a real mess of your lawn. Use a besom broom or stiff broom to clear them, and be sure to choose a dry day to avoid turning those casts into mud.KEEP IT CLEAN
- 3. Feed - For stronger, healthier grass come spring, now is the time to give your lawn a feed with an autumn lawn food. This will help strengthen the grass during cold and wet weather.
- 4. Clean up your vegetable garden - If you haven't already, make sure any leftover crops are removed and all weeds are cleared.
- 5. Bring vulnerable plants indoors - If you have tender or half-hardy plants in your garden, bring them under cover now to keep them safe from frosts. If bringing plants from outside into the home, don't forget to check the compost carefully for insects and snails first.
- 6. Clear debris - Whether it's fallen fruit around a tree, or foliage from roses, now is the time to remove it. This will discourage disease and ensure that sunlight is getting through to the grass or plants below.
7. Clean your tools - It'll keep them in good condition, and make your job easier in the new year. The same goes for sheds and greenhouses. And speaking of greenhouses, don't forget to give the glass a clean - that layer of fallen leaves could be making a real difference to the amount of sunlight reaching the plants inside.
- PLANNING AHEAD GARDENING
- 8. Plant bulbs - Spring might seem far away now, but it'll be here before you know it. So plant spring-flowering bulbs now. September is the best time to plant them, but any time in autumn is fine if you missed the early boat
- 9. Rehydrate - It's easy to forget to keep the garden watered once the summer sun has cooled, but if the weather is still dry, your lawn and plants may well be thirsty. This is particularly true of plants growing in containers. Ensuring they're hydrated now will help them withstand the extremes of winter weather.
- 10. Store garden furniture - It might sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people neglect this step until it's too late. Left to the elements, sun umbrellas will become discoloured and barbecues begin to rust. Suffering from a lack of garden storage? Consider purchasing protective covers - they're relatively cheap, and a definite investment.
11. Give ponds some attention - Remove any overgrown plants or weeds, and skim off fallen leaves. You could consider putting a net over the pond to keep the water leaf-free throughout the season.
- IT'S ALL ABOUT MAINTENANCE
- 12. Repair fences - It's easy to focus on the garden itself, and neglect the boundary. Get ready for autumn's bluster by taking stock of wooden fencing. Pay particular attention to fence posts - if you catch potential problems early enough, a simple fence post repair kit can save you the time and effort of replacing an entire panel following a fall or winter storm.
- 13. Get unclogging - Increased rain plus fallen leaves can be a recipe for clogged gutters and drains, so make a point of removing any built-up debris now to avoid trouble later.
- 14. Replenish your bird feeders - Come autumn, our winged friends will begin to find natural food sources less plentiful. Give them a ready supply, and they'll be sure to drop by, bringing a flurry of colour and life to your garden well into the winter and beyond.
Now you can curl up inside with that cosy blanket and mug of hot chocolate. Nothing left to do but relax, safe in the knowledge that your garden is fully prepared for autumn.