Investing in a little planning and preparation as Autumn arrives can reap big rewards for beautiful blooms and a bountiful garden in the Spring.
September is the ideal time to start getting your garden ready for the colder days and longer nights ahead. Preparing your garden for the change in season might sound like hard work – but by following a few of our Autumn gardening tips, you’ll minimise the garden chores you’ll need to undertake to keep your outdoor space looking good.
Tidy up the flower beds
It’s time to wield the spade and dig up any annual flowers and put them on the compost pile. Annual flowers tend to struggle in the winter months and can be tricky to maintain if the weather turns frosty, so it’s a good idea to remove them now.
Perennials, such as asters, foxgloves or geraniums add a vibrant splash of colour to gardens almost all year round. They are hardy enough to survive the cold weather, but they should be cut back in the Autumn to allow them to thrive next year.
Tackle the weeds
It might not be a gardening chore many people enjoy, but if you don’t get the weeds under control now, you’ll have a mammoth task on your hands in the Spring. Whether they are lurking in the flower borders or sprouting up in the cracks of your paving – aim to remove weeds and their roots to stop them from regrowing.
Top up the compost heap
All those cuttings and weeds can be put to good use on the compost pile, ready to enrich the soil with nutrients and boost your garden in the Spring. Using your garden waste (food waste is great too) to create your own compost will also minimise the need for chemical fertilisers, making it a ‘greener’ option that doesn’t cost the earth.
Treat your lawn to some TLC
Raking (or scarifying as it’s also known) your lawn will rid it of moss, weeds and other debris to prepare it for the Winter months. It’s also worth ‘spiking’ your lawn with a garden fork, as this allows air to circulate and prevents your lawn from becoming too water-logged when the rainy days arrive.
If your grass has been subjected to a lot of wear and tear over the Summer months, now is the ideal time to flatten out the bumps and dips with to get a smooth finish. You can purchase a small garden roller – like this one from B&Q – to achieve this easily.
Lastly, a good quality organic lawn fertiliser will give nature a helping hand before your grass is subjected to the harsh weather ahead.
Protect your pond
If you’re lucky enough to have a pond in your garden – it’s a good idea to cover it with a protective pond net when the leaves start to fall. The net will stop the leaves from clogging up the pond and will also help to keep hungry herons at bay – as they see the fish as an easy meal once the pond’s vegetation dies away.
Store or cover your garden furniture
Many of us have spent a lot more time in our gardens than ever over the last two years – in fact, patio furniture was a best-seller during the national lockdowns.
As the nights draw in and Summer evenings sitting in the garden become a distant memory, it’s time to protect your patio furniture from the elements. If you have wooden chairs and tables and have room to store them in a garage or shed, this will allow them to fully dry out. Once dry, apply a coat of wood preservative to keep your furniture in tip-top condition whilst it’s in storage.
If you are unable to store furniture in an outbuilding, it is worth investing in a waterproof cover to protect your seats and table from the elements. Don’t forget to give your barbeque a thorough clean and cover that as well.
Check your garden tools and petrol lawnmower
Before you pack your garden tools away, it’s advisable to check them over and perform some basic maintenance where required. Clean and sharpen your shears, and check forks, rakes and spades for any damage or signs of rust.
It’s also a good idea to give your lawnmower a service by changing the oil, cleaning or replacing the air filter and spark plug and draining any petrol from the tank to stop the fuel going ‘stale’ over Winter.
Maintain your greenhouse
Keen gardeners know the importance of a well-maintained greenhouse to shelter fragile plants from the unpredictable Autumn weather.
Start by cleaning the glass panels to remove dirt and debris that could otherwise block the light from reaching your plants. Use eco-friendly cleaning solutions to remove bacteria without polluting your plants or causing harm to garden wildlife and pets.
If your greenhouse has guttering, remove leaves and debris regularly as a blocked gutter can overflow and cause leaks inside the frame.
Finally, give the interior of your greenhouse makeover, by cleaning seed trays and plant pots and wiping down surfaces and benches.
Plan your 2022 garden
This is the fun part! September is the ideal time to think ahead and plan your Spring garden. Plant daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, and tulip bulbs in well-drained soil and look forward to a blast of colour in March.
To keep your garden colourful all year round, this is also the best month to plant some hardy Summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and alliums.
Give your flower bulbs the best chance of success by planting the bulbs roughly four inches apart and burying them twice as deep as the height of the bulb.
There are also plenty of vegetables you can sow in September, ready for a Spring harvest, such as salad onions and spinach. Planting peas and broad beans now will allow them to establish over the Winter months – they are hardy plants and will thrive, although it is advisable to cover them with a protective fleece during frosts and snow.