As summer’s vibrant colours and warmth gradually give way to autumn’s crisp, golden hues, it’s time to transition your garden to embrace the changing season. With a few essential tasks and thoughtful planning, you can ensure your garden remains beautiful and well-prepared for the colder months ahead. Let’s explore some essential steps to guide you through this seasonal transition.
1. Tidy the Borders
Start by tidying up your garden borders to make way for autumn. Remove dying leaves and collapsed stems from herbaceous perennials. Take the time to clear out any weeds, and then generously spread compost over the soil to insulate plant roots from the impending cold.
2. Collect Fallen Leaves
As leaves begin to carpet the ground, don’t let them go to waste. Pile fallen leaves in out-of-the-way areas, such as under hedges, to shelter wildlife during the colder months. However, remember to clear leaves from your lawn, paths, and borders, and instead, use them to create valuable leaf mould.
3. Clear Away Old Crops
In the vegetable garden, clear out spent plants before they can rot and become breeding grounds for pests and diseases. Compost everything unless it’s diseased. When dealing with beans and peas, chop them off at ground level and leave the roots in the soil to enrich it for next year’s crops.
4. Care for the Lawn
A well-maintained lawn can beautifully accentuate your garden borders. Mow the lawn for the final time, setting the mower blades slightly higher than usual to leave the grass longer for the winter months. Use an edging tool or knife to redefine the lawn’s edges, giving it a neater appearance. Read our Autumn Lawn Care article here.
5. Make Repairs
Inspect and repair any damages to raised beds, sheds, compost bins, and fences. Apply wood preservatives to protect the structures from harsh weather. Ensure that the shed roofs don’t leak, and replace any broken panes or faulty vents in greenhouses to maintain a conducive environment for your plants.
6. Clean Out Bird Boxes and Feeders
As a considerate gardener, take the time to clean out bird boxes and feeders. Empty the bird boxes and wash them with hot water to remove any nesting material or debris that might carry diseases. Regularly refill the feeders and bird baths to provide a source of sustenance for feathered visitors during the colder months.
7. Sort Out Ponds
Prepare your ponds for autumn by scooping out leaves that have blown in before they start to rot and contaminate the water. Trim back the foliage of pond plants that have died down, and remove any pond pumps or fountains that won’t be used during the colder season. Store them properly to prevent damage.
8. Cut Out Spent Flowers
Assess your container plants and remove any spent flowers to keep the plants producing new blooms. Prune away lanky growth and trim stray stems to maintain an aesthetically pleasing late-summer container garden.
9. Trim and Prune Flowers
Continuing from the previous point, remove spent flowers from your garden and trim any overgrown or unruly stems. This practice encourages new growth and ensures that your garden remains vibrant and attractive as autumn sets in.
11. Fertilise Plants
With your new mix of plants in place, fertilise them with a water-soluble fertiliser following the package instructions. This step ensures your plants receive the necessary nutrients to thrive during the cooler season.
12. Move Pots Before Frost
For container plants, please take advantage of their portability by moving them indoors or to protected areas when frost is forecasted. This simple action can extend their blooming period well into autumn, allowing you to enjoy their beauty for a few extra weeks.
Before removing any plants, harvest any remaining fruits, vegetables, or blooms you wish to preserve. This not only prevents waste but also provides you with fresh produce and seeds for future planting.
14. Deadhead or Dig Up
For plants that will survive winter but won’t produce again until spring, deadhead any spent flower heads to conserve their energy. For plants that won’t survive or are not desired for the next season, carefully dig them up, leaving as much soil as possible in place. The remaining roots will decompose and enrich the soil.
15. Add Compost to the Soil
Prepare your garden for the coming months by enriching the soil with compost. Spread a layer of compost a few inches thick over your garden and work it into the top six inches of soil. This ensures that your plants can access essential nutrients during the autumn season.
16. Plant Autumn Flowers and Vegetables
Use the cooler weather to plant vegetables that thrive in autumn, such as lettuce, kale, spinach, and other leafy greens. Add autumn-blooming flowers like chrysanthemums, asters, and pansies to keep your garden vibrant and colourful.
17. Prune Trees and Shrubs
Finally, give your trees, shrubs, and bushes some attention by pruning away damaged, diseased, dead, or weak branches. This helps them conserve energy and prepares them for new growth in the upcoming spring.
Following these essential steps, you can smoothly transition your garden from summer to autumn, ensuring its beauty and vitality extend well into the colder months. Embrace the changing season and maximise your garden’s potential for seasonal beauty and productivity.