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5 autumn garden must-dos

March 18, 2020

As the mornings begin to feel cooler and winter sheeting finds your bed, it’s time to prepare a gardening to-do list. Autumn is the time of year to prepare the garden for a winter nap. Hedges are pruned, limbs are lopped, and garden beds receive a healthy dose of compost.

Man cleaning the gutter from autumn leaves

Clean Up

Keep on top of the leaves and debris that will inevitably cover your outdoor areas. While this can feel laborious, wet and icy leaves are a slipping hazard which makes clean up an important part of autumn gardening. Fortunately, this dead matter will not go to waste. It is the perfect base for a winter compost pile. Alternatively, leave small piles of debris and twigs hidden around your garden to give the insects and hedgehogs in your garden somewhere to hibernate during the winter months.

Garden Bed Prep

Turn the topsoil of any vacant vegetable gardens. Focusing on the topsoil will encourage deeper soil stability which limits nutrient loss. Most vegetable garden plants only grow roots 10-15cm into the soil, so this is the section of soil that requires that most feed. Exceptions are potato plants and other long root vegetables. They require deeper soil attention. Turn in compost, blood and bone fertiliser, and let it rest.

Autumn planting

Some areas have the autumnal climate to plant bulbs, wildflowers, and dormant plants such as roses and peony bulbs. Garlic is best planted on the shortest day of the year, so be sure to prepare a suitable patch in advance. This preparation will save you working hard in the cold come garlic planting time.

Pruning and taking cuttings

‘Tis the season to prune your hedges, re-shape trees, and cut back fruit trees to stimulate the formation of fruit buds and flowers. Autumn is also a great opportunity to take cuttings from your semi-hardwood and hardwood plants like lavender and camellias. You can store these in pots on the windowsill until you are ready to plant them in spring.

Prepare the lawn

Take the time to scour your lawn with a rake. This will help remove moss, weeds, and dead grass. Aeration at this time is also beneficial as it promotes deep root growth. Avoid using your usual lawn fertilisers which that high in nitrogen as this will encourage grass growth which can lead to frost damage. Instead, use a lawn fertiliser low in nitrogen and high in potassium which will help strengthen the grass and increase its resistance to frost.

While autumn does mean the end of summer, it also means the beginning of a break from the garden. A little preparation now will allow you to put your feet up throughout winter and enjoy the produce you harvested before the temperatures dropped.