We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but it’s officially autumn, meaning that our (sometimes) warm summer days are numbered. Autumn itself is a beautiful season, but it’s also the perfect time to get your garden ready for the harsh days of Winter.
Whether you’re a complete newbie to gardening and want to know where to start, or you’re a seasoned (sorry) pro who wants a checklist of things to remember, today we’re going to share our top 7 tips for autumn gardening.
Just because it’s getting cold doesn’t mean your planting days are done! Evergreen plants are a fantastic addition to any garden – they provide structure and colour even on the greyest winter days. The warmer soil of autumn makes it a perfect time to plant them, and there’s a huge variety to choose from.
Sarcococca, or sweet box shrubs are a great choice, as they provide a dense thicket of green, glossy leaves, and flower in winter, providing a lovely, sweet aroma when there isn’t much else in bloom. Alternatively, daphne also provides lovely winter flowers, and can be shaped to create a beautiful, picturesque garden.
Protect your ponds or water features
Falling leaves mean that your ponds and water features can be covered in dried leaves very quickly, so it’s best to use a fine meshed net, and spread it across the water to prevent anything from clogging your pumps and filters. You can pin the net with anything heavy you have to hand, such as bricks, rocks, or even tent pegs!
Refresh your compost bins!
It might seem contradictory to refresh compost, but autumn is a great time to clear out last year’s compost and use it around the garden as that also makes space for another year’s waste. You may find that your compost isn’t quite ready, but you can still take the opportunity to turn it, aiding its decomposition.
Leafmould is the result of decaying leaves, of which there is an abundance in autumn, and it makes a fantastic soil conditioner.
It can be made with any leaves you have available, and it’s very easy to produce. Simply collect leaves from your garden, raking them into a pile. You may choose to create a simple “box” using wire mesh and wooden stakes, or bamboo canes, ensuring that the area is sheltered somewhat from the wind. Fill the box with as many leaves as it will take and moisten the pile if it becomes too dry. Then, let the leaves do their thing!
Alternatively, a refuse sack with holes poked in the side will be just as effective – just be sure to check on it from time to time to see if it needs a little water. Most leaves take a couple of years to break down, so it may be some time before you see the fruits of your labour, but the resulting product is more than worth it. It can be used as seed-sowing compost, or mixed with soil to be used as potting compost. If you have leafmould that is “low-quality” (less than two years old), it can be effective as a winter covering for bare soil.
Scrub off shade paint
If you’re lucky enough to use a greenhouse, you’ve likely had shade paint on the glass through the summer to prevent it from overheating. But, with the days getting shorter in Autumn, you’ll want to make the most of any sunlight that’s available, so wash off any shade paint as soon as you can.
While you’re washing, it’s a great time to do some maintenance, and check for any cracked glass that needs replacing.
Lift tender plants
Before even a hint of the first frost, you’ll want to lift any tender species of plants, like dahlias, begonias, fuschias, etc. Seasoned gardeners will know that these plants live year-round, so they can be stored in a greenhouse, conservatory, or anywhere impermeable to the frost until they’re ready to be planted again.
To store them, cut back any stems and gently lift them from the ground, cleaning them of any soil. They can be stored in dry compost, allowing the stops of the crowns to be visible. Keep them safe and sound until you’re sure that it’s warm enough to plant them again.
Finally, do some essential tool maintenance
Now is the perfect time to check and maintain any gardening equipment you have, so it’s ready and waiting for when you really need it.
Give everything a good wash and thoroughly dry.
Check your lawnmower for any damage, and send it for a service if you use it often and want to keep it in great condition.
Check the handles of any tools – if they’re made of wood, clean and protect them with a wood-safe wax or oil.
Dry anything with moving parts to ensure they won’t rust in storage.
Sharpen anything that’s supposed to be sharp! Your shears won’t be any good come springtime if they’re dull.
Don’t forget to enjoy your garden!
And there you have it! Just some of the top tips for getting your garden ready for winter. Even if you’re not one for growing things, you can still apply some of the tips from our list to make sure your garden is in great shape for the following spring, like cleaning garden equipment, and tidying areas of leaves and debris.
Do you have a specific question about taking care of your garden? Head to our Instagram page and let us know in the comments!