Summer’s over and it’s time to put away the BBQ. The gardening doesn’t stop though: here are the top things to do in the garden in autumn to keep it looking great.
You’ve probably spent more time in your garden over the past couple of summers than most previous years. With the restrictions of lockdowns, working from home, and the cancellation of foreign holidays, most people’s gardens now get heavily used over the summer months.
Throughout the pandemic, many of us got into doing a bit of gardening for the first time. I’ve certainly started paying much more attention to the garden because we’ve been using it so much more. As well as sprucing up the furniture and adding solar lighting and a chimenea, we’ve done quite a bit of planting to brighten it up.
But the work doesn’t stop now that the colder weather’s here. In fact, autumn is the ideal time to get cleaned up and ready for the extremes of winter.
So pull out your gardening gloves and take a look at these things to do in the garden in autumn.
What should you do in your garden this Autumn?
A lot of garden work at this time of year is actually tidying up from the planting, projects and growth of the summer. But if you do it now, the garden will not only look better over the winter, but you’ll also have a lot less work on your hands when the weather turns warmer again in the spring.
Top Things To Do in the Garden in Autumn
Here are the top things to turn your attention to in the garden now before winter arrives.
1. Sort Out Garden Furniture and Barbecues
What to do with your garden furniture and BBQ over the winter really depends on whether you’ve got anywhere to store it. If you’re lucky enough to have a shed or garage where it can be put away for the season, then this can be the easiest way to make sure it’s protected from the elements.
However, if you’re leaving it out (like I am, because our garage is too full of who knows what), then make sure that cushions are stored away indoors out of the damp and think about investing in covers to protect the hard surfaces from falling leaves and frost.
Try to give furniture a decent clean before it’s covered or stored – and make sure it’s dry before any covers go on.
Remember to give your barbecue grill a final clean too, so you don’t open it up to a horror show on the first warm day next spring. Put a cover on it to protect it, and remember to disconnect the hose from gas bottles and make sure the valves are firmly closed. You can safely leave gas canisters out over the winter.
2. Clean Patios and Decks
Now’s a great time to get decks, patios and driveways cleaned up. Removing mould and moss will mean they don’t get slippery and dangerous over winter.
If you have a pressure washer, this is the best way to go about it. They’re much quicker and more powerful than a standard hose – although if you’ve used one before, you’ll know it’s a messy job. Wear old clothes and wellies at all costs. You’ll still end up looking like the swamp monster, but at least you’ve been warned.
If you’ve got swings, slides or a trampoline, now is also a good opportunity to clean these up ahead of winter. And if your paddling pool is still out, dumped in a corner somewhere looking a bit green and full of gunk, then it’s probably time to get that away too. (Alternatively, you could leave it out till the spring when it’ll be irreparably manky and then buy a new one next year. Not that I’d ever do that.)
3. Do Some Autumn Lawn Care
Autumn is a great time to get your grass back into good condition after the summer and ready to withstand the winter weather. British summer can throw all sorts at our grass, from drought to waterlogging – so taking care of it in the autumn can help with bare patches, weeds and moss.
The best way to start, whatever the condition of your lawn, is to scarify the grass: this basically means getting a springy metal-tined rake and using it to remove debris and moss.
If your lawn has been wet, aerate it using a large garden fork. Then apply a dedicated autumn lawn fertiliser, plus any treatments you need for moss or weeds.
If you have patches, whether from poor growth, pets, or under the kids’ play equipment, this is a great time to re-seed them with a lawn seed or patch mix.
4. Plant Spring Bulbs
Whether it’s in beds and borders, or pots and patio containers, this is the time to plant some spring-flowering bulbs. If you plant a variety, you’ll get flowers over a longer period of time come the spring. Try snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils and tulips to get a rainbow of colour as we emerge from winter.
If you’re unsure where to start, most bulb packets have planting instructions on them to help you. Then you can pretty much ignore them until they pop up to brighten your day next year.
5. Plant and Maintain Autumn Trees and Shrubs
If you’re looking to establish hedges, climbers or roses, then autumn is a great time to plant hardy shrubs (for non-hardy, it’s best to wait till spring). Use plenty of compost or manure to add organic matter to the soil.
For existing shrubs, roses and hedging, prune them back after they’ve finished flowering to neaten them up.
6. Sort Your Autumn Fruit and Veg Garden
If you planted any fruit and veg this year, then you may still be harvesting it now. Watch out for birds going for autumn fruit – you may need to protect it if you’re still picking.
You might also want to plant seeds for winter and spring harvesting, such as spring cabbages, spinach, and radishes.
7. Make a Compost Bin
Autumn’s a great time to make a compost bin, as you can use it to collect falling leaves if you have trees in the garden. Autumn leaves make great leaf mould in your compost bin which is good news for your future plants.
8. Enjoy Your Garden This Autumn
Most of all, enjoy the last of the warmer weather before the chill sets in. Take any chance you can get to sit in a sunny spot with a cup of tea, and soak up that vitamin D while you can.