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Autumn is here! 7 tips for maintaining your garden

07 Oct 2022 | Written by By Tracy George

A photograph of a rake lying flat in a pile of bright orange leaves


Headshot of the author, Tracy, set against a dark green background with two American flags in the bottom corners and 'A bit of joy from across the pond' written between them.

Now is the time when you get up in the morning and faintly feel a slight chill in the morning air.  And even though there are still some warm days ahead and the anticipation of watching the leaves turn the landscape into a majestic, colourful sight for our eyes to behold, we gardeners are as busy as the bees.

There is much to do in the garden until winter comes and gives us a slight repose. Oh, now who am I kidding? Even in the winter, we’re perusing catalogues, planning, and ordering for when spring comes and we can get back at it.

Whether you’re a beginning gardener or have been gardening a long time, these autumn garden tips will help you stay on track, maintain your garden and get motivated. 

  1. The Grand Cleanup

    Now that summer is over, it’s time to take a walk around and look at your landscape and garden. Pick up any fallen tree limbs, rake up dead leaves to prevent pests and disease and put them in your compost or spread them on your garden as mulch. 

    Sweep your patio or balcony and spend a little time taking care of your outdoor furniture, barbeque grill, glass house and any fountains or ornamental decorations.

    Towards the end of autumn going into winter, make sure to clean your gardening tools before you store them away. But remember as you’re sprucing everything up to pace yourself and make yourself a nice cup of tea when you’re finished.

  2. Trees and Grass Need Loving Care

    With temperatures gradually dropping, autumn is the best time to aerate and repair your lawn while the soil is still warm. Look for any bald or brown spots and dig up the dead grass, remove any rocks or stones and sow grass seed mixed with compost to cover the area. Top dress your entire lawn with a mixture of high-quality compost. You may mix sand with the compost to help it go a little further.

    Likewise, if you are wanting to plant new trees, it’s best to do it while the soil is still warm. This gives the root ball of the tree time to get established before it gets cold. Be sure to dig your hole large and deep enough, water thoroughly and often until the tree roots have settled in. If you’re wanting more colour in the winter, evergreens are a nice addition.

  3. Enjoying the Fruits of Your Labour

    The best part about autumn is harvesting and enjoying your fruits and vegetables and flowers. Keep a watchful eye on your vegetable garden and fruit trees and pick anything that is ready to be harvested so it doesn’t go to waste. If you have excess be sure to can or bottle them and add them to your pantry. 

    When harvesting is done be sure to pull up spent vegetable plants and add them to the compost, rake the debris in your garden beds and amend the soil with compost and mulch. Now is also a good time to lay straw or wood chips on your walking paths. 

  4. Tidy up Your Hedges and Flower Beds

    As the temperatures start to cool down and the days grow shorter, your garden may start to look a bit tired. But with a little effort, you can give it a fresh look for autumn. Start by trimming back any hedges that have become overgrown. This will help to neaten up the border of your garden and make it look tidy. 

    Then, deadhead any spent flowers. This will encourage new blooms to form, giving your garden a burst of colour as we head into autumn. With just a few simple steps, you can keep your garden looking its best all season long.

    As you go about deadheading you can also begin to collect and save seeds from your annuals and perennials. If you’ve never collected and saved seeds, the video below will show you how to so you can spend less buying them. 

  5. Plant Bulbs to Add Colour in the Spring

    After the grey of winter, nothing beats the sight of cheery daffodils, tulips, crocus and hyacinths peeking their heads up to let you know it’s spring. If you haven’t ordered your favourite bulbs, they should be able to be purchased now at your gardening centre. 

    Dig a hole two to three times the size of the bulb and add a bit of organic fertiliser. Then place the bulb in the hole and cover it up. Plant them in groups in a sunny location, making sure the soil isn’t too wet or they will rot. 

    Plant spring flowering bulbs now and summer flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladiolas in September and October. Tulips can be planted in November. Bulbs are so much fun and add colour to your borders. I always forget about them and then when they come up, I’m delighted. 

  6. Flower Power up Your Garden

    Once the seeds you collected have dried, it’s time to plant your annuals and perennials.  If there are any diseased or withered plants, cut off the dead stalks and leaves. If they are looking too far gone, pull them up and put new ones in. You can also dig up ones that have gotten too big and divide them, giving you more plants without having to buy them. 

    When your annuals have seen better days, pull them up and add them to the compost. Clean up and amend the soil and sow your annual seeds, to bring colour and pollinators to your garden in the spring. Make sure to also tend to any potted flowers and hanging baskets. 

    Ladybird, Shirley and opium poppies, marigolds, cornflower, love in a mist, honesty and flax can be sown directly into the ground. More tender annuals like sweet pea, California poppy, baby blue eyes and toadflax will need protection from frost or can be sown in pots in your glasshouse or indoors.

  7. Celebrate and Get Together with Your Gardening Friends Throughout the Autumn Season

    Half the fun of autumn gardening is getting together with friends and trading seeds or giving away some of your harvest. If you don’t have many gardening friends, you can swap seeds and harvest on the UK plant/seed swap Facebook group.

    I also like to take cuttings of lavender stalks and other flowers that dry well and give my friends fragrant bouquets.

    And if you have extra time, it’s always nice to volunteer and assist a friend with their garden or go to a community garden and offer help.

    Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

    Autumn gardening and maintenance can seem like a big job, but with cooler weather and all the beautiful autumn leaves it can be a joy. Give yourself a pat on the back!  Your work doesn’t go unnoticed, passersby, family, friends and the bees and the butterflies are all enriched by your garden. Don’t forget to reward yourself with that new tool or special garden showpiece you’ve had your eye on.

Let us know in the comments below any special tips or things you do that others may benefit from. We’d love to hear from you.

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