The great garden tidy-up
Autumn is the ideal time to give your garden a thorough tidy, before the cold weather sets in. A job well done now keeps it looking neat in winter and means that you’ll get a head start next spring.
7 areas to tackle ahead of the winter frosts
- Clean up rotting and finished plants. Besides looking untidy, old plants can harbour disease, pests, and funguses so remove dying leaves and collapsed stems from herbaceous perennials, either pulling by hand or cutting at the base with secateurs. Leave any stems that have attractive seed heads for birds to enjoy. Remove weeds, then spread compost or well-rotted manure over the soil to insulate plant roots. Burying old plants in your garden also adds organic matter to your soil, improving soil tilth and overall health.
- Collect Autumn leaves. Rounding up the leaves in your garden is more beneficial than you might think. Grass is a living organism, requiring both air and sunlight to create food, and grow. Allowing thick piles of leaves to gather on your lawn will prevent sunlight from reaching the grass, therefore suffocating it. Even leaving leaves for as little as three weeks can be enough to damage your grass and leave it in a muddy mess. A few piles of leaves in out-of-the-way places – under hedges, for example – can provide shelter for overwintering wildlife. But remove leaves from your lawn, paths (which can be slippery) and borders.
- Prepare your soil for Spring. Surprisingly, most people reserve this activity for the Spring, however Autumn is a great time to dig in soil amendments like manure, compost, bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate. Adding nutrients at this time of year means they have time to start breaking down, enriching your soil, and becoming biologically active. It also means you won’t have to wait until your garden dries out in the spring to work the soil for the first time.
- Prune your perennials. Autumn is a good time to trim many perennial garden plants, although take care to ensure you choose the right ones and it can be nice to leave some perennials standing throughout winter months. Some perennials don’t handle winter weather well and won’t remain attractive after frost. Focus autumn pruning efforts on herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage; and vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb. Blackberries also benefit from an autumn clean up. Remove spent or crossing canes to help control the plant’s vigorous spread.
- Leave your lawn looking trim. Nothing sets off borders better that a neatly cut and edged lawn, so now is the time to mow the lawn for the final time this year. Set your lawnmower blades higher than usual to leave the grass slightly longer over winter. Follow this up by cutting the edges with an edging tool to redefine their nice clean lines.
- Tidy away and make good. Cut down any annual climbers in your borders and climbing beans in vegetable plots, remove dead stems and foliage from their supports. With canes and other removable wooden supports, wash off any soil then treat them with preservative. Store them indoors over winter.
Repair any damage to raised beds, sheds and compost bins, painting them with wood preservative. Replace any rotting fence posts, so they don’t get blown down in winter storms. Check your shed roof for any leaks and replace any broken window panes in greenhouses.
- Give your tools some TLC. It’s difficult to keep up with keeping tools clean and well-oiled throughout the year when gardening is in full swing. Autumn is a great time to lengthen your tools’ lifespan by giving them some much needed attention. Remove dirt, debris and any rust with sandpaper or a wire brush. Sharpen hoes, shovels and pruners. Finally, rub the surfaces of your tools with an oiled rag coated in light machine oil. This will help seal the metal from oxygen and extend your tools’ lives for another year.
Kiwi Landscapes has been landscaping commercial spaces and residential gardens in West London since 1999. We’re a friendly, professional garden landscapers firm with a vast amount of experience.