With the coming of late October and November, the days are getting shorter, there is an autumnal bite in the air, and soon winter will be here. So it is now time to get the garden in good shape for the cold dark days ahead. But what exactly should you be doing? Here are some suggestions.
Give the garden lawn some care by raking away leaves, and adding an autumn lawn fertiliser.
Dig up weeds and annuals (plants that only last a year) from your flower beds and compost them. Cut back perennials, (plants that grow every year) and compost all but the hard twigs. Make sure that you know whether the plant needs cutting to the ground or requires some growth left. Protect tender rooted plants with a thick mulch of wood chip.
Non hardy plants, such as dahlias and gladioli, need to be dug up, either once they have begun to die back or after the first heavy frost. Once lifted from the ground, leave them out in the sun for a few hours to dry out. Once dried, clean them gently, removing any attached soil, and lay carefully in an open box containing sawdust or sand. Place the box in a cool, dry place such as a shed or garage and protect them from mice etc.
If you have a pond, it's a good idea to cover it with netting to stop leaves falling in the water and rotting. Also, if you have fish, place a tennis ball on the water to stop the pond from totally freezing over in the depths of winter, this will allow the water to breathe.
Plant bulbs. Whether in drifts in the ground, or in containers, bulbs will provide a rich tapestry of vibrant colour in the spring. Make sure the bulbs are planted at a depth of two to three times their height. To plant in drifts, scatter handfuls of bulbs, and plant where they land for a naturalistic look.
Now is a perfect time to do any repairs to your fence, shed and other garden structures and also to retreat wood with preservative on a dry day. Also, put away your garden furniture in the garage or shed, or cover for the winter.
If the soil is dry, give your garden one last good watering before the ground freezes.
Trees and shrubs will need attention too. Any dead or diseased branches need to be removed but don’t be too ambitious in doing this yourself; the cost of a tree surgeon is less than a branch through a greenhouse or a branch on the head.
Once plants are dormant, it is a good time to lift and relocate any plant that you want to move.
Put up bird feeders. Encouraging birds to visit to feed during the winter season will mean that come next spring, you will have a small army of feathered friends to gobble up slugs and other unwanted garden inhabitants.
And as the days grow cold, the best task of all. Put your feet up with a nice cup of tea, a pile of catalogues of beautiful plants & seeds, and spend an leisurely few hours planning what you need to plant to make your garden look amazing next year.