How To Autumn-Proof Your Garden
When the summer holidays are behind us and the second half of the year is underway, your garden is probably not top of your list of priorities. But putting in the hard work now means you’ll have less to do come spring, when the sun is shining and barbeque season starts again.
From short tasks like ridding your flowerbeds of weeds, to longer weekend projects such as clearing out your shed, there’s plenty you can do to prepare your garden for winter and beyond. Here are 10 gardening tips to start you off this autumn.
Want to keep your garden looking great but not sure about what to plant in autumn? The warm, wet soil that’s typical at this time of year makes ideal conditions for a variety of foliage. Winter vegetables like onions and broad beans do well planted in autumn. Or get your spring bulbs, like daffodils and bluebells, in now so they’ll be ready to bloom when the weather starts to warm up.
Protect plants from frost by covering them overnight with an upturned bucket or flower pot. You can cover larger plants with fabric – old bedsheets will work – or invest in a frost cover.
Sort out your shed
Chances are after a busy summer your shed has probably seen better days. So take this opportunity to give it some TLC. First, clear out everything you no longer need and de-clutter at your local tip, leaving you the space to see what you’ve got left to work with. Give the floors a good sweep, stack pots in size order and grab an extension cable and vacuum inside. Now is also a good time to put up some shelves, if you’re short on storage space. Then label your seed trays and boxes, so you know where to find everything, and you’re good to go.
Prep your fence
Wind and rain can put your fences through their paces, so check them for damage now, before winter rolls in. Look out for rot or insect nibbles and make sure the posts and panels are secure. Don’t forget to treat and/or repaint the wood, too.
Clear the guttering
With their glorious changing colours, autumn leaves are beautiful to look at, but they can be a nuisance. Check your gutters and drainpipes for leaves that may have fluttered in – if these build up and cause a blockage, water can go back into the guttering and leak into the roof and down the sides of your house. Also make sure that your guttering is correctly aligned, with the bottom of the pipe facing away from your property.
It may seem out of season, but now is a good time to grab a spade and tend to your borders. Autumn provides an ideal opportunity to move poorly-placed plants, divide overcrowded perennials and fill in gaps with evergreens while the soil is still warm. Then dig up any weeds and dead flowers or foliage and create or add these to your compost heap. Once your borders are clean and tidy, fertilise the soil with a thick layer of compost.
Clear out compost bins
Once you’ve cleared up your borders, you might find yourself with an overflowing amount of waste. Whether in your average recycling bin or filling up a compost heap, the autumn months are a great time to clear out last year’s supply and spread it around the garden. Compost not quite ready? Turn it to improve decomposition and create a new heap – you can never have too much.
Tend to your lawn
If your grass looks slightly worse for wear after a summer of picnics, outdoor games and barbeques, take this opportunity to revitalise it. Tackle the spread of moss with a moss killer, but be sure to check that this is child/pet safe first. In areas that see a lot of wear and tear – like pathways – you may find that the soil has become compacted. Improve drainage and aeration here by making deep holes with the prongs of a garden fork every 10cm across the entire area. Then, add a sandy top dressing and some autumn lawn feeds and your grass will be ready to recuperate over winter.
Tackle your greenhouse
As the months roll on, the days become shorter and natural light can get scarce. This isn’t good news for your sun-thirsty greenhouse plants. So help them out by removing as much shade as you can – a bit of scrubbing with some hot water should bring the glass up sparkling clean.
Cast your net to protect your pond
Water features can look brilliant, at least until fallen leaves turn your pond water murky and block the pump filter. Make your job easier in spring and catch the leaves now before they can cause any damage. Spread a fine meshed net across the pond and hey presto – you’ll stop the leaves in their tracks.
Check you’re properly covered
Our final piece of autumn garden advice doesn’t require a rake or compost bin. Winter can be a popular time for weather-related home insurance claims and while there’s nothing you can do about wind and rain, you can ensure you’ve got cover in place, should something go wrong. From damage to your greenhouse following a storm to your plants getting ruined – sort out your insurance now and you’ll be thankful further down the line.
Speaking of cover, keep your garden furniture safe from the elements in autumn and winter by investing in protective covers, or tidy away tables and chairs in a shed or garage.
Published: 28 September 2018