Too many gardens aren’t properly prepared for autumn. Spring is great for getting everything started while summer is the big payoff for gardeners but come autumn many gardens are often left behind without a second thought.
It’s understandable, with the weather getting poorer and the days getting shorter, not everyone wants to spend their free time outside in the garden! But an autumn garden is very much a place to enjoy, while taking the time to prepare it for the season will only have long-term benefits over the next year.
Survey the garden before autumn arrives
One of the easiest ways to prepare the garden is to simply walk around and see what you might need to work on for the upcoming season. Look out for signs of wear and tear that you may want to address, such as patchy lawns, overgrown areas, and what plants may require to go indoors to survive the winter.
Some plants may need divided up due to the warmer summer, so keep an eye on anything that could benefit from being separated out. Also, try establishing what will die in the winter (such as herbs) and whether you want to save them or just regrow next year.
Clear shed for storage space
Your shed has probably become quite unorganised over the spring and summer, with constant additions and removals typically messing up even the tidiest of garden sheds. So, as you need to be storing a lot of equipment over winter, it’s a good idea to prepare some space in the shed to store your things.
Tools should always be stored in the shed as cold and wet conditions can seriously damage even the newest garden tools. While storing your tools, check to see if any tools require some oil or need their blades sharpening.
Furthermore, you may want to store garden furniture inside the shed if you have space. Winter and autumn can wreak havoc on outdoor furniture (especially wooden furniture), so consider storing indoors to avoid rotting/rusting.
Treating soil with a slow releasing fertilizer is always a good idea during the autumn. Because fertilizer helps to restore nutrition to the soil, which has likely been depleted by plants constantly growing over the spring and summer months.
Be sure to invest in some organic fertilizer as these are great for soil enrichment, with compost, mulch, and manure all being good options for this.
Doing this for autumn means that come spring, there is less work needed to prepare the soil for growing, while the winter cold often hampers nutrient efficiency so it’s always worth doing this in time for autumn!
Also, adding mulch to plants for autumn helps keep them safe and healthy during the winter so is well worth doing!
Feed and weed the lawn
You will find that most lawn treatment products recommend applying twice yearly, during the spring and towards the end of summer/start of autumn. If you want your lawn looking great for next year, be sure to add these before or during autumn.
Weed killers are useful for removing all the seeds and weeds landing throughout summer ensuring fewer weeds develop during the growing season in spring.
Lawn feed ensures the lawn remains in good condition during the cold and freezing months of winter, helping to encourage healthy growth come spring. Check for a lawn feed that is specifically for autumn, as you want more protective ingredients (such as phosphates) rather than those that encourage growth (such as nitrogen). It is important to ensure the lawn is free of debris. Shred large branches to make them easier to transport and rake the surface to help get rid of anything that remains on the grass.
Gather seeds from plants
Autumn is a good time to collect seeds from your plants, saving you the hassle of buying new seeds for spring.
For fruit or vegetables, simply leave a few unpicked and let them dry out or ripen. Ripened fruits and veg leave seeds that can easily gathered by leaving them in water before removing pulp. Seeds that sink are the best for growing so be sure to collect them.
Similarly, flowers that are left to die and dry out should leave seeds behind. Regardless of the seed type you want to keep them in sealed container in a cool, dry location – cupboards are ideal for this.
While perennial plants will naturally survive the winter there is no guarantee that they are safe. Disease is one of the biggest risks for perennials so take a look around your garden and see if any have signs of disease – look for spots, mould, or damaged leaves/stems.
If you find leaves or stems that look diseased or damaged, simply remove these, but you often need to apply treatments should the disease be established in the plant. Also, some plants are beyond saving – remove them to avoid disease spreading to your healthy plants!
Check trees for damage
Once autumn arrives, take the time to check your trees for signs of damage, as fallen leaves often reveal otherwise hidden damage. Branches may be damaged or broken, in which case you should look to prune them to avoid any accidents.
Gutters should always be completely cleared for autumn as they will likely see lots of leaves gather during the season. So, it’s good to get any debris removed before the autumn arrives, otherwise you increase the chances of blockages due to the amount of leaves that accumulate.
Clean and check garden tools
Clean and check all your garden tools to keep them in good condition for their next use. Lawn mowers should be given a good check over. Remove the blade, give it a good clean and sharpen it to ensure it provides a clean cut. Any other bladed tools like shears, pruners and trimmers should also be cleaned, oiled and sharpened. This maintenance is essential as when it comes time for you to reach into the garden shed to get one of your tools they will be fit for use.