6 Essential Autumn Gardening Tasks
As we move into October, there’s no denying that autumn is upon us. Temperatures are dropping, the wind is picking up, and the leaves are starting to turn on the trees.
While the season for barbecues and sitting outdoors may be over, autumn is a wonderful time for tending the garden. The mild, damp weather makes the soil perfect for planting spring bulbs, and you can prepare your lawn and plants for the dormant months ahead.
So, wrap up warm and get started with these essential autumn gardening tasks to ensure your garden blooms better than ever next year.
Tidy the space
Trimming and pruning
Once your summer showstoppers have stopped blooming, prune some back if you would like but remember to leave plenty for winter interest and as homes, shelter and food for wildlife. Removing dead or diseased stems can help to prevent fungal disease and pests from overwintering. You should also take the chance to trim your hedges. Cut off any new growth well before the first frost to prevent the stems from being damaged when the cold weather arrives.
Use the fallen leaves
Tree leaf fall, which occurs predominantly in November, can seem frustrating for gardeners. Pathways can quickly become slippery underfoot in wet weather and lawns can be damaged by leaving leaves over winter.
However, there are several ways that you can repurpose autumn leaves to benefit your garden. Why not add them to your compost bin to create nutrient-rich food for your plants next year? Alternatively, make leaf mould which can be added to topsoil for better drainage. Rake your leaves into sacks and allow them to decompose ready to be used as leaf mulch for your plants the following year.
Prepare new growth
Plant spring bulbs
Get ahead of the game by preparing new growth for next year by planting your spring bulbs. You can plant these right up until December but choose a time when the soil is warm and moist for the best results come March.
Top tip: to keep your bulbs looking brand-new year after year, make sure you plant them deep enough!
Grow seasonal vegetables
Most of your produce planting will be done in spring, but you can grow seasonal vegetables throughout the winter as well! There are many hardy crops that can withstand the colder temperatures to deliver seasonal produce or a very early harvest in the new year.
The best varieties of vegetable seeds available for autumn sowing include winter lettuce or cabbage, and root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, radishes, onions and garlic.
Keep plants warm and dry
From raging winds and heavy downpours to frequent frosts and snow, the harsh conditions in winter can be challenging for your plants. Keeping your plants warm and dry will help to protect them against the worst of this weather.
Try insulating your potted plants with materials such as hay or cardboard and raising them up to ensure effective drainage. For particularly vulnerable species, bring them indoors whenever a frost is forecast.
Don’t forget the wildlife!
Last but not least, don’t forget the wildlife who live in your garden! There are ways to help local wildlife in winter at minimal or no expense.
As natural food sources dry up, put out nuts and seeds for the birds. Replenishing stocks of fresh water is useful, too, especially during days where ponds and lakes are frozen. You can also provide essential shelter for birds and hedgehogs in the form of boxes placed in strategic locations.