What to do in your garden now

There’s no doubt about it, autumn is well and truly here. The trees are putting on their annual show of colour before being blown hither and tither by the frequent blustery winds and carpeting the landscape in fallen leaves. It’s noticeably colder too; a reminder that winter isn’t far away and that there’s still plenty to do in the garden before Jack Frost comes visiting and it’s time to retreat inside with a hot drink, a roaring fire and a good book or next year’s seed catalogues.52182_LAKE8515_006

A bracing walk through fallen autumn leaves is one of life’s simple pleasures but once the leaves are wet they quickly lose their appeal and clog drains, make pathways slippery and generally become a bit of a nuisance. If you have trees in your garden or your neighbours do, chances are there’ll be piles of leaves all over your lawn and in your flowerbeds which need to be collected up. The good news is that if you bag them up into perforated bin bags and keep them in a sheltered spot, in a year or so you’ll have lots of lovely leaf mould to use on your soil.

1. Love your lawn…

It’s time to give your lawn its final mow of the year and a little bit of care and attention before the ground gets too hard to put a fork in. Give it a good rake first to clear out any moss and thatch; set your mower to its highest setting for cutting and don’t forget to tidy up the lawn edges too. Next, go over the lawn with an aerator or a garden fork before lightly top dressing with compost to nourish the soil beneath. It’s important to keep off the grass now, especially on frosty days, so that it gets a chance to recover and the soil doesn’t become compacted.

2. A touch of frost….

Don’t get caught out by early frosts. Make sure outside taps and pipes are lagged and that smaller, tender plants are moved into your greenhouse to overwinter. Lift begonias and dahlia tubers: remove all the dead foliage and keep them dry until they’re ready for replanting in spring. If you have plants in containers, bubble wrap will be your best friend. You can use it to wrap them up for extra protection against the winter chills. For larger plants, tie garden canes together into a tepee shape and pack it out with straw which will keep plants protected but still let them breathe. Give your beds and veg patch a thick winter coat of well-rotted manure or compost after digging them over. The worms will soon get busy breaking everything down so your soil will be in tiptop condition come spring.

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3. Cutbacks…

It’s time to get your loppers out and cut back your herbaceous perennials – you can add the trimmings to your compost heap. You can divide them now too if the bed is getting a bit overcrowded. Give your hedges a final trim, prune climbing roses and deciduous trees and tidy up straggly shrubs.

4. Planting…

It’s not too late to plant tulips for a colourful spring display and, if you get them in now, daffodils should still come through to brighten things up too. Now is also the best time to move or plant trees or shrubs but make sure you’ve got their new home ready  in advance to lessen the stress of the upheaval.

 

5. Tis the season to pick holly…

If you’re lucky enough to have a holly tree in your garden, cut a few stems with berries on for using in Christmas displays before the hungry birds make a meal of all that colourful fruit.

6. Hungry birds…

It’s important to look after our feathered friends that haven’t flown south for the winter. Keep feeders topped up and hang fat balls from trees and the birdies will show their appreciation by eating up any lingering slugs and their eggs.FRBLU15526

7. Tidy, tidy, tidy…

There’s no more putting it off. Now’s the ideal opportunity to get in your shed and have a good tidy up and clear out. Throw out any out of date seeds, dispose of broken or cracked pots, clean up garden furniture that needs to be stored inside, scrub your tools, seed trays and pots – you get the idea. Your greenhouse will benefit from a once-over too. Wash the glass and floors with disinfectant to make sure you get rid of any pests and diseases that have made themselves comfortable for winter. Check the heater is working, replace broken panes of glass and reduce heat loss by putting bubble wrap or thick plastic on the inside of the glass. And don’t forget to open the windows on warmer days to allow air to circulate so that humidity doesn’t build up

8. Last but not least…

Have a walk around your newly neat and tidy garden and check fences and other structures are all secure, maybe have a little think about next year’s planting and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Then take off your wellies, hang up your coat and get in out of the cold.

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