Autumn gardening: get your garden winter ready

Summer might have drawn to an end, but there’s still plenty to do outside to get your garden ready for the winter. Here’s what to do.

Image: Pixabay

Tidying

Leaves, leaves and more leaves! If you have trees anywhere near your lawn, this is the time of year when you realise just how many leaves even a small tree grows. The trick here is to keep on top of them and sweep them up regularly. Left untended, they’ll start to smother grass and form a layer of mulch that’s harder to tidy up.

If you have children, get the family involved with the raking – flasks of hot chocolate, bonfires and ginger biscuits will make it an entertainment rather than a chore. If you sweep leaves into piles and don’t get round to burning them for a few days, remember to check for hedgehogs before you light the match! Alternatively, collect leaves for composting.

Clear old compost out of bins and use it as mulch to make room for leaves and pruning offcuts. Image: Pixabay

It’s probably time to pack away garden furniture, so pick a dry-ish day and give it all a good clean before putting it away or covering it. Clean out and scrub water butts, and raise pots off the ground on bricks or feet so they won’t get waterlogged. Check and repair fences and sheds, and give them a coat of wood preservative if necessary.

Lawns could probably benefit from a last mow to leave them tidy over the winter. Re-cut the edges, as well. If you have evergreen hedges such as holly or yew, give them a trim now to leave them until the spring.

Remember to check piles of leaves for hibernating hedgehogs. Image: Pixabay

If your summer container displays have finished and you’re not replanting with winter flowers, empty the pots of the old compost and use it as mulch on flower beds. Scrub the pots and put them away clean for next year.

If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, then this is a good time of year to give it an overhaul. Sweep it out, brush down and disinfect shelving, clean glass, remove any summer shading and throw away and old pots, ready to move in any frost-sensitive plants that you plant to over-winter. Giving everything a thorough clean out helps prevent pests and diseases from hiding in there until the spring.

Tidy up compost bins, ready for putting all those leaves into!

Planting

It may seem like a strange time of year to be getting down and dirty with the trowel and compost, but this is when you need to be thinking about planting spring bulbs to make a spring display. When you’ve dragged yourself through winter, you’ll be glad of those cheerful flowers coming up to remind you spring’s on it’s way again, so get digging now!

Alliums, tulips and daffodils are all suitable, whether you’re planting in containers or beds. If you’ve got any plants that need moving to a new location, now’s the time for that as well.

Clean garden furniture and put it away, either in the garage or under a cover. Image: Pixabay

Prune any roses or lavender that are still running riot, and tie climbing roses back against their support so strong winds can’t damage them. If you’ve got an shrubs or bushes that have gone a bit rampant over the summer, cut them back now to leave pathways and lawn edges clear.

Take out any summer bedding plants and annuals that have finished flowering, and put them in the compost – you can fill in the space with winter pansies and primulas for next spring.

Finally, weed and tidy beds and spread them with leaf mould or bark chippings to provide a layer of insulation to keep frost at bay.

Now, you can go inside and put the kettle on – and wait for spring.

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