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How to get your garden ready for autumn

10 February, 2016
Autumn Thumb
Just as each season of the year is different, so too are your demands as a gardener when planting and pruning. With autumn not too far around the corner, we’ve taken a look at a series of handy tips and tricks to help get your garden ready for the new season. With a little bit of planning and not too much effort, you can make sure your garden looks just as nice in autumn as it does in spring, and you can even try several gardening ideas that you can’t attempt at other times of the year.

1. Make sure everything is clean and ready to go

Cleaning your garden for autumn in anticipation of winter is the best way to avoid plant diseases, and this ensures your garden doesn't become unkempt and overgrown after a busy summer. Dead plants, old fruit and vegetables, weeds, and any plant life that may look a little bit diseased should always be removed from your garden immediately. You needn’t throw it out either - healthy plant material can always be composted. That being said, any plant matter that shows sign of disease should be disposed of, otherwise you risk re-infecting your plant material next year with the same disease.

This is also a good time to remove and clean any supporting materials you might have in your garden, like tomato cages, trellises or bean stakes. By taking a little bit of time to clean these items you’re not only ensuring that they will be looking good for next year, but you could potentially be eliminating any diseases that may be building up and affecting the future growth of plants in your garden. Autumn is the best time of year to make sure everything in your garden is clean and ready for the coming spring.

2. Tend to your perennials

Autumn is the perfect time for you to tend to your perennial plants and make sure they will look fantastic come the next spring. If the leaves or stems have turned yellow or brown, this generally means the plant has gone dormant for the cooler months so it’s a good idea to trim the plant back somewhat. Some perennials produce seed heads that can really be left standing until early spring, at which time they generally should be pruned back to suit your garden design.
Autumn is a fantastic time to take care of dormant perennial plants that have overgrown and become too large and numerous. Consider dividing these plants up, sharing them with friends, or planting them in different areas of the garden to maximise growth over a number of different areas. When planting, make sure your new plants are well mulched for the cold conditions.

3. Raking and composting tree leaves

Raking leaves is an iconic image of autumn around the world, but there’s a right and a wrong way to complete this task. The mistake many people make is raking tree leaves onto their gardens as soon as they fall to the ground, which can actually smother young plants. Instead, what you should be doing is gathering these leaves up and composting them first. This way, more nutrients can get through the soil to the young plants, without running the risk of inhibiting their growth.

4. Mulch your garden beds

Autumn is a good time to be tending to your garden, but it’s also important to be wary of the rapid fluctuations in temperature. To cater for this, make sure you mulch your garden beds thoroughly. Not only will this protect your garden from unpredictable temperature fluctuations, it will also help your garden retain moisture in the cooler months. Also, if you happen to have a vegetable patch, autumn is a good time of the year to be spreading compost over the beds. By doing this you’ll ensure your vegetable garden is ready to be dug out just in time for spring.

5. Don’t be afraid to keep planting

Despite what you may think, autumn is actually a pretty good time to continue planting in your garden, particularly early in the season when the ground is still warm and many of the plants will still be actively growing roots. If you want to completely reinvent your garden for spring, this autumn could be your best opportunity to get the groundwork done.

6. Get your vegetable garden in gear

Autumn is the best time of the year to be starting a vegetable garden, so if you’ve ever had aspirations to grow your own veggies, autumn is the time to do it. Plants like peas, beans, carrots, turnips, spinach, lettuce and broccoli will thrive in the cooler temperatures. As an added bonus these plants usually form hearty, delicious winter soups to warm you up!

7. Start planting spring bulbs

Plants like tulips and daffodils thrive in the cooler temperatures and this helps them bloom effectively when spring comes around, so if you’re considering adding these flowers to your garden arrangement then autumn is the time to plant them. Be sure to plant them in clumps and drifts as they would appear in nature, rather than straight, unnatural rows, as this will make them flourish in spring.

While autumn might not be the most inspiring season of the year from a botanical standpoint, it’s really a great time of the year to get a lot of good work done for your garden. By setting aside a little bit of time and taking the measures outlined above, not only will you be able to ensure your garden is looking good for spring and summer, but it will be well placed to stand up to the rigours that come with the cold temperatures and winds of winter.     

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