Our Top 5 Autumn Gardening Tips
If, like us, you were under the impression that spring was the best time for gardening, you’re in for a surprise.
It turns out autumn is actually the most important gardening season. So says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) – so it must be true!
According to the RHS, there are many environmental and financial benefits of gardening over autumn. But what exactly should you be doing out there? The days are getting shorter and the temperature is dropping – so follow our top Autumn gardening tips to make the most of the next couple of months in your garden.
The soil in your garden is in perfect condition for planting just now. It’s moist and warm, but not too wet after the summer. You could start off with some spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. If you weren’t aware these should be planted in the autumn, you’re not alone. Over half of the UK adults surveyed by the RHS last year didn’t know either…
Trees are better planted in the autumn too, particularly in clay soils, which tend to dry up and become concrete-like in the spring. Evergreens provide structure and interest during the grey winter months, with the likes of sarcococca and daphne flowering beautifully if they are planted now. Autumn is the perfect time to get some veg under way as well. Garlic, onions, broad beans and spinach will all grow well if planted this time of year.
TLC for your lawn
Now is the best time to lay turf if you are looking to put down a new lawn. The soil is still warm from the summer and moist with autumn rain. Laying it now will give it plenty of time to establish before next spring/summer. If you already have a lawn and it’s looking a bit bedraggled, it’s worth putting in a bit of time just covering the basics. Remove leaves, moss and dead grass with a rake (add it to your compost heap if you have one). Get rid of weeds, using a lawn-friendly weed killer if necessary, and aerate your lawn by making deep holes with the prongs of a garden fork. This helps vital nutrients get down into the roots of your grass and improves drainage.
If you don’t already have one, start your compost heap. You certainly won’t be short of material just now. And you know what they say, one man’s rubbish is another man’s, err, compost? All your old summer bedding plants from borders and containers can go in. Crop debris from vegetable patches and raked up moss is good too. You can add fallen leaves if you wish, although if you have the time and space, these are better used to create leafmould once they’ve been rotted down separately. They will make a terrific mulch for your borders!
Protect plants from frost
Winter is coming…and with it, the threat of frost. Your more tender plants, such as cannas, begonias and dahlias need protecting from the cold weather. You could hope for a mild winter and try to get away with covering them with mulch, but better to dig them up, allow the bulbs to dry and brush off soil and compost. Store them in shallow trays in a dark, cool place (a shed is ideal) ready for replanting in spring.
Cast a critical eye over your borders, then remove any dead or dying leaves and stems. Clear out weeds which will otherwise take hold over the next few months. Cut back perennials, but don’t go crazy – seed heads are great for insects who you want to encourage to stay in your garden over winter. Spend a few hours sorting through and cleaning your garden tools, your shed too if you have one. Your future self will thank you come spring!