Now that autumn is well and truly upon us, let’s look at what you can do to get ahead at this time of year in the garden
The thing with a garden is, if you don’t look after it, it’ll overwhelm you. So it’s always best to have a plan for every season – including autumn!
Here are my top ten tips to help you get the best from your autumn garden
- Autumn is the time to divide summer flowering perennial plants like hostas, agapanthus, iris, crocosmia. If you want more plants, replant them once divided and you’ll have two for one! Or just do it to keep them under control if you’re being overrun with a certain plant – I’ve seen crocosmia practically overtake an entire garden, left to their own devices.
- Place a net over your pond to prevent falling autumn leaves causing problems in there by creating silt. A badly silted pond is a menace – it can become a bog garden rather than a pond so avoid creating undue silt at all costs. Most ponds need a complete clean out about every 5-10 years depending on their size – it’s a BIG job, not for the faint-hearted.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs from September (daffodils, crocus, winter aconite, fritillaria) to November (tulips) and be rewarded with a colourful show from January to May next year.
- Collect those fallen autumn leaves and store them in black bin bags (punch a few holes for air) or in a specially created ‘bin’ made from wire mesh, to create leaf mould. It may take a year or so but you’ll get a rich material to add to your soil – and it’s free. Avoid leaves from traffic-heavy areas…too many pollutants!
- If you planted annuals (plants that last just one season then turn up their heels and die!) they’ll be looking pretty scraggy by now, so dig them up and add them to your compost bin.
- If the garden looks a bit short on structure, never fear – autumn is a good time to plant shrubs like Daphne, spring-flowering Camelia or Azalea and the impressive Fatsia – they’ll give you lots of strong green colour and great shapes through the winter and the rest of the year.
- If you’ve got tender plants like Begonias and Dahlias, you’ll need to get them out of the ground before any danger of frost rears its ugly head. Dig up the tubers/rhizomes, clean them of excess soil and store in trays of dry compost somewhere that’s frost-free like your shed or greenhouse.
- Believe it or not, autumn is a good time to create a new lawn either by using turf or seed. We’ve done many a new lawn right through to December. The ground is still warm from summer and hopefully not yet too wet! If you’ve already got a lawn, use autumn feed now.
- As plants die down in autumn you can see the fencing more clearly – if it needs some TLC, now’s the time to get it done. Once spring arrives and everything bursts into bloom you’ll find it’s harder to access, so you may as well get it done now.
- The kids will enjoy this one – build a bug hotel from logs, bits of discarded wood, straw, dry grass and hollow plant stems. It’s basically a shelter for a wide variety of wildlife such as ladybirds, all sorts of insects, hedgehogs, toads, bees.
So, there you go, lots to get on with in autumn. Then sit back and start planning your garden for next year!