Gardening at this time of year is like a cleansing and unburdening natural therapy. Out goes all the leaf fall and debris of the past season and in comes the new plantings and tidied edges and shrubs.
It isn’t pretty and it feels pretty unrewarding when you’re ankle deep in wet leaves, but these are the essential jobs of garden maintenance that will ensure you have a handsomely manicured plot come spring.
Here’s a checklist of autumn garden jobs
- Plant spring flowering bulbs for next year if you haven’t yet done so. There’s nothing quite like some luxurious bowls of large hyacinths that you’ve planted yourself flowering in in the depths of winter.
- A good time still to make a new lawn or repair an existing one. Lay turf or scatter seed to repair damaged areas. Don’t just throw the seed down though and hope for the best. Get a rake and give the ground it a good stiff going over to break up the surface and get a layer of crumbly soil, scatter the grass seed and then rake again to bury most of the seed under the crumbly stuff you’ve just made. Water it well and don’t walk on it for ages – until the first mowing in fact, which shouldn’t be until the grass is about 2 inches tall.
- Place a net over your garden pond if you have one and if the are trees nearby, or at least check it on a regular basis and don’t let fallen leaves sink to the bottom. They build up in surprising quantity, rob the pond of oxygen as they rot and introduce an abundance of nutrients that can encourage excessive algal growth next year.
- Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs. They won’t be rooted until well into next year so put them somewhere that they will not be disturbed.
- Plant any shrubs, perennials, trees etc. that you had planned to. This is an excellent time for planting and the best time of year. It gives the plants a chance to get a decent root system before they become dormant, it also protects the roots from the worst of frost being below the ground rather than in a container. Come next spring, the plants are there from the earliest time to make growth directly into the surrounding soil.
- Tidy the garden. This help to reduce the amount of hiding places and food that slugs and snails in particular will have to tide them over the winter, which is good news for you next year. Don’t be too enthusiastic though, some plant seed heads can look good through the winter, particularly of ornamental grasses.
- Take cuttings of less hardy plants. If you have any half hardy plants such as Fuchsias or Pelargoniums watch out for cold weather and frosts that may kill them off, they need to over-winter in frost free conditions if they are to survive the winter. It’s a good idea to take cuttings in a protected place as an insurance policy.
By Paul WardLast modified: December 31, 2020