36 Tasks for your gardeners' autumn checklist

As summer days in garden draw to a close, use this checklist to make sure you do not overlook any important autumn jobs.

You gardening checklist for autumn

raking leaves

  • Start removing dead plant remains from borders and vegetable beds, and clear weeds for composting. 
  • Rake up leaves, particularly those fallen on alpines and herbs which cannot stand damp conditions, and stack for leaf-mould. 
  • Net ponds to prevent any fallen leaves from fouling the water.
  • Give hedges a final trim.
  • Raise the cutting height of lawn mowers for the last cuts and sow or turf new lawns.
  • Finish harvesting fruit, and check supplies in store. 
  • Gather vegetables and store any excess.
  • Start planting new roses, hardy climbers, shrubs, trees and perennials while the ground is still warm.
  • Begin winter digging, especially on heavy soils that are best left rough and exposed to frost.
  • Finish cleaning the greenhouse, cold frames and cloches. Wash and dry pots and trays, and store neatly.
  • Prick out and pot up seedlings and rooted cuttings.
  • Insulate the greenhouse, and prepare plants inside for colder weather.
  • Move outdoor containers under cover before hard weather, or insulate them where they stand.
  • Drain and roll up hosepipes and clean out water butts, and drain and insulate taps if severe frost threatens.
  • Repair fences, gates, decking and other wooden structures while the timber is dry.
  • Order seeds.
  • Continue to check plants for problems, especially diseases. 

 

Preparing your garden for frost

frosty garden

Plan ahead so you are ready to protect plants if a sharp frost suddenly occurs after a long, warm autumn.

  • Do not feed plants with high-nitrogen fertiliser during autumn, as this encourages soft growth vulnerable to injury.
  • Choose hardy varieties of winter vegetables and grow them in the warmest part of the garden.
  • In very cold areas, only grow fruit that ripens early, so you can harvest it before conditions deteriorate.
  • Mulch plants of borderline hardiness with straw, leaves or crumpled newspapers held in place with wire netting.
  • Shield young and tender shrubs with windbreaks of plastic mesh or sacking.
  • Do not tidy perennials too thoroughly, because dead growth will insulate roots and trap a covering of fallen leaves.
  • Keep a supply of newspapers, old curtains, blankets or fleece to cover cold frames, cloches and vulnerable plants outdoors.

​​​FROST TIP: Check plants after a hard frost, especially those recently planted, and firm them in if they have been forced out of the soil.

 

Defending against seasonal problems

  • Pest attacks diminish during autumn, but many diseases thrive in damp, mild conditions. There is still time to spray with fungicide if you notice symptoms of rust, mildew or black spot, but sensible precautions have longer term impact.
  • Clear leaves and other plant debris unless needed for frost protection.
  • Part prune shrubs or thin out congested stems to improve the air circulation.
  • Gather fallen fruits and put them out for the birds in a corner, well away from plants.
  • Pick rotten or mummified fruits and remove or burn.
  • Ventilate plants under glass whenever possible and water only when absolutely necessary, preferably early in the day.

Read more: 8 Ways to make a dramatic fire garden

 

Getting to grips with seed catalogues

Order seed catalogues early and take time to read them, noting what you would like to grow and where. It makes sense to rely on familiar favourites, but why not try a few novelties or alternative varieties as well?

Seeds that have been specially prepared for easier germination—primed, chitted and coated—can help to ensure success. Remember that if you can’t provide the necessary heat for raising tender plants, many seed catalogues offer seedlings or plug plants that relieve you of tricky germination procedures. looking after birds

Many birds are useful allies in your efforts to control plant pests. As the weather deteriorates, they will appreciate a regularly supply of food, either on a bird table safe from cats and squirrels or in feeders suspended among branches; balls of fat mixed with seeds are popular with small birds. As further encouragement, introduce bird boxes into your garden now as shelter over winter and before the main nesting season starts in March.

 

If you're thinking of having a bonfire

having a bonfire

First, ask yourself: do you really need a bonfire? You can compost most soft plant remains, stack leaves to make leafmould, and often shred woody material. If you do have a bonfire, follow these safety rules: site it well away from buildings, fences, and other combustible structures.

  • Keep it small or use an incinerator to confine it.
  • Have a hosepipe  or buckets of water handy in case you need to douse the flames.
  • Wear gloves, stout footwear, and other protective clothing.
  • Use a fork to add material to the fire.
  • Keep children at a safe distance; shut pets indoors. afterwards  allow the remains to cool, then add the potash-rich ash to the compost heap in layers.

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