Autumn Gardening Tips
The Garden Fairies guide on Autumn gardening.
What to plant
Spring bulbs, Autumn flowering/berry and evergreen shrubs, trees and creepers and some for winter colour.
Top tip, when planting in the Autumn mix in some rich compost to improve your soil and a small amount of sand/grit below spring bulbs to protect them against the slugs. We recommend putting cardboard covered with a mulch such as wood chip around the base of the plants to protect the roots against frost damage.
What to cut back
Any shrubs or trees that have finished flowering are ready to be cut back into shape. Be sure to always check for birds nest before you chop away. Most birds will not be nesting at this time of year, however there are some that may. Pruning should be done well before the frost arrives.
Dead head and cut back any perennial flowers such as iris, dahlia and gladioli which are dying back.
Cut the lawn for the last time this year. As we head towards winter and the weather gets wetter there will be less opportunity to cut the grass over the next few months. Also this is a good time to aerate the lawn by spiking holes in the lawn using a garden fork or aerator to let air and water into the soil. This allows nitrifying bacteria into the soil and prevents the soil from getting to clogged. Its also a good time to add some fresh grass seeds or re-turf your lawn before the frost kicks in. Add a small amount of sand to high traffic areas. If you have large lawn area such as a paddock or field it may be a good idea to invest in a harrow or you can use a rake to scarify smaller lawns to remove any moss build up.
Fertilize your lawn with (antibacterial free) soapy water from the bath or washing up bowl, or you can really go all out and use beer, mouthwash or sugary soda (not coke or sprite as they contain too much sugar that will attract unwanted pests.)
Turf & Re-seed
If you are thinking to re-turf your lawn, now is a good time. Ideally this should be done a few weeks before the frost arrives. Before you begin remove all the old lawn with a rotavator. If you don't have one of these to hand you can hire one or just use a garden fork. Once the old lawn has been removed then you will need to add a layer of topsoil or well rotted horse manure. Ensure the surface is completely flat by using a hard rake and drag your feet over it taking baby steps. You can also use a garden roller to get it extra smooth. Once the service is flat, you are ready to lay down the new lawn. You will need to roll it out on the day you purchase it or it will begin to die back quickly in the rolls. Make sure your the edges are tightly packed together to avoid having any gaps as the lawn may shrivel up slightly if it dries out. And finally keep your new lawn watered regularly especially on dry days it will need a good soak. Keep pets off your new lawn for a few weeks as the urine will leave your lawn with spoilt dead patches.
Protect your summer plants
Once the foliage of lilies, begonias, gladioli and dahlia has faded and been cut back lift the tubers, bulbs and corns from the soil, allow them to dry off, then store them away some where dark and dry protected from the frost. Re-plant in the spring once the frost has passed.
Bring any half hardy shrubs or plants indoors or into a green house or cold frames over the next few months. If you are using a polytunnel consider adding a layer of bubble wrap to the walls as an extra layer of insulation. If this is not an option you can get frost protective fabric to wrap around your plants over the next few months. Don't forget to add a thick layer or cardboard and mulch around the base of plants to protect the roots against frost damage. Also it may be a good idea to tie any new plants such as shrubs or trees to a stake to protect them against the wind.
Consider creating an area for a new compost heap. Collect all the leaves that fall during Autumn and winter to create a fine new compost ready for your spring flower beds and new seedlings. (Please note some wildlife will use the compost heap as winter shelter so always be careful when you are using it)