Now that your garden has survived a hotter than usual summer and autumn has arrived, you may find it’s looking a bit worse for wear. Autumn is a great time to tidy up, review and rejuvenate your garden. We’ve put together our top 10 gardening tips to get your garden thriving this season.
1. Autumn Gardening Tools
Investing in quality tools will pay off with neat cuts and reduce the risk of disease entering the cut surface. If you do have diseased shrubs or trees, clean the cutting surface with a sterilising agent (e.g. dilute bleach) to reduce cross-contamination. Keep a small sharpening device with you as you go around the garden as you’re more likely to stop and sharpen your secateurs or pruning shears as you go. By working with sharp tools you’ll make gardening maintenance much easier and quicker.
2. Tidy Perennials and Shrubs
Autumn is a good time to lift some plants and remove old woody looking sections. Strawberries can be lifted, fertilised and replanted. Remove the head of spent flowers on perennials, roses and flowering shrubs to promote late flowers. Herbaceous shrubs, e.g. lavenders, can be cut to half their size to keep them compact.
3. Rejuvenate and Divide Irises, Agapanthuses, Liriope and Clivias
After a number of years strappy leaved plants, such as iris, agapanthus, liriope and clivia may eventually look crowded and ‘tired’. Lift, separate and replant these tired plants after rejuvenating the soil. Excess plants can be moved elsewhere in the garden or given away. Remove all dead iris leaves at the base and cut a third of all green leaves into a fan shape.
4. Prune Hedges
There are many reasons why you should prune your hedges. It helps improve their health and appearance. Hedge plants may need a tidy up in Autumn but leave heavy shaping until late winter, after the risk of frost has passed.
5. Plant Bulbs such as Jonquils and Daffodils
Bulbs offer fantastic displays from early spring to early summer. Once planted they require little maintenance. Autumn is the best time to plant bulbs as they will shoot when they’re ready. Autumn it’s also time to clean up any spent leaves that might be lying around. Jonquils and daffodils can flower as early as July and August so are a welcome surprise in winter. Overcrowding will impact flowering so early autumn is the best time to lift, dig over the area and fertilise, and then replant with plenty of space.
6. The Secret to Small Tree Success
If you give your trees a light prune each year they will keep a good shape. Heavy pruning leads to an abundance of new growth that will lead to the necessity of more pruning and lots more work! Autumn is also a good time to spot the dead wood in trees too. Use secateurs or a pruning saw to neaten branches, so they don’t cross each other.
7. Love your Lawn
Now is a great time to fix bare spots of lawn as the soil is still warm. Runners will have time to settle before winter and direct seeding will require less attention if there is a bit of rain. If the lawn is looking pale then feeding will bring it back, especially with winter rains. If your lawn is compacted through heavy wear it may be a good time to aerate. Aeration provides oxygen deep in the soil and should be done every couple of years with an electric or hand-held mechanical device (visit your local hire company).
8. How to Plant Fruit Trees
Fruit and ornamental trees are easier to plant if there has been rain as the soil will be easier to dig. Prepare a good size hole and add plenty of organic material. The tree roots will get a chance to settle before winter and will be ready to grow when spring arrives.
9. Why Mulch in Autumn?
Now is the time to mulch the garden in preparation for winter. Winter rains will get through the mulch and prevent moisture evaporation when the summer heat dries the soil surface. Mulch encourages beneficial microbial action around the roots, contributing to plant health. So, keep an eye on your soil moisture levels, even during the cooler, milder days.
10 . Veggie Garden Ideas
This is the time to remove summer vegetables and prepare for winter flowering vegetables. Your garden centre will stock the best varieties, including onions, turnips and parsnips for warming winter meals. Autumn is a brilliant time of the year to get out into the garden. With slightly cooler weather approaching, it’s the perfect opportunity to do any big maintenance jobs you’ve been putting off in the hot summer weather. Good-luck and happy gardening!