18 Oct Seasonal garden maintenance tips for autumn
Autumn is one of the busiest months in the gardener’s calendar. In this blog we’re looking at garden maintenance jobs to help keep your outdoor space in good order for next year.
In some ways, garden maintenance is a bit like home maintenance. For the most part you can keep things clean and tidy yourself. Maybe you can do the odd bit of DIY too. But for some jobs, you need to call in the experts.
A good approach is to have a seasonal garden maintenance plan. Know what you can tackle yourself – which realistically will be most things. And then factor in the occasional “big” jobs like fencing, arboricultural jobs and major clearance or refurbishment.
Tree pruning is best done in autumn and winter while the tree is dormant. It takes a lot of skill, experience, training and equipment to ensure there is no damage to people or property.
Always call in an expert for this kind of work.
Gardening jobs for autumn
Garden maintenance is not just about digging and weeding. The hard landscaping needs care too. Patios, paths and drives can become slippery and slimy if they are neglected. Keep them clear of autumn leaves and make a point of sweeping off dusty deposits before they turn to mud. If you are seeing algae growing in shadier parts, it’s a good idea to tackle it now. A good pressure washer should do the job but be sure to use a wide jet so you don’t dislodge the grout.
Is your patio weedy? It could need re-pointing. A competent DIY’er can do this, but if you’re not sure, call a reputable landscaper for help.
Whilst doing the clean-up check for wobbly or uneven slabs. They’ll need a bit more attention to make them safe.
At this time of year it’s always good to check that garden buildings are water tight. Guttering needs to be cleaned (once autumn leaves have all dropped). If you can access the roof safely remove any old moss and check that waterproofing is secure and intact. It’s surprising how much damage winter storms can do if the wind gets under roofing felt.
If we do get a few warm dry days in a row, you could give wooden buildings a coat of preservative paint. But do be careful not to seal damp into the timber.
Usually landscapers receive lots of phone calls from October onwards where fences have blown over or been damaged by weather. Householders are worried about security and the potential for more harm. It’s not always easy to pre-empt that kind of damage, but if you know your fence is weak in places, organise repairs or replacement before disaster happens.
Whatever garden maintenance you are working on this autumn, don’t forget to look out for wildlife
Lawns are living things and the summer of 2018 was hard for them. Help your lawn recover with an application of autumn-winter feed. If the soil is badly compacted you might want to think about re-turfing.
Trees and shrubs
Autumn and winter is when weak or diseased trees are likely to come tumbling down. Take the time now to cut out any dead or diseased wood – but only if it’s safe for you to do so. Any job that involves using a chainsaw at height should be tackled by a trained operative with all the right safety equipment.
Overgrown shrubs can be pruned in autumn and winter. The plants are largely dormant and there is no risk of disturbing nesting birds. Try to avoid cutting off nuts, fruits and berries too early in the season. They are valuable winter food for wildlife. Prune in February instead.
Fruit trees should be pruned in winter so that you get a better yield next year. Start by taking out dead and diseased branches. Then aim for a nice open shape with low branches so that the fruit is easy to pick. Study books and online videos before you start so that you can recognise which shoots will bear fruit next year and which can be removed.
Beds and borders
Time to take out weeds, split large perennial plants, fill in any gaps in the planting and refresh the mulch. If you can resist the urge to be super-tidy please do. Spent foliage is wonderful habitat for overwintering insects. And some of the seedheads will make great food for wild birds. If we have a very cold winter, the dried stems and leaves provide a certain amount of frost protection for more tender plants.
Very tender plants such as pelargoniums, dahlias and some fuschias should be lifted and stored in a frost free place.
Scilla siberica is a spring flowering bulb that’s just a little bit unusual. Plant bulbs in autumn for prussian blue blooms in March and April
Looking forward to spring colour? Plant some bulbs now. Daffodils and tulips are the classics but there are some amazing spring flowering bulbs available. Scilla are beautiful, as are dwarf iris, winter aconite and fritillaria. If you like scented plants, hyacinth look great in planters and they smell divine. Pop some planters near the front door and you’ll be breathing in great wafts of perfumed air as you come and go.
Finally, take an overview of the garden
When your garden is as tidy as it could be make yourself a cuppa and start listing the improvements you would like to make.
Did your garden take up more of your time than you wanted it to?
Were you able to you spend time out of doors cooking, eating and relaxing? Why not?
How colourful or interesting was the planting from month to month? Were there times when it could have looked much nicer?
Is there an area of the garden that you don’t like? Perhaps it’s too shady or you need better storage solutions to hide bins, bikes or junk. Maybe it’s overlooked and you want more privacy? Or perhaps you don’t feel the children are safe to play outdoors unsupervised.
If your atumn garden is tidy but a bit “meh”, it might be time to plan a makeover? Look how this space was transformed by a new patio and fresh planting
If you need help creating a better outside space, get in touch with the team at Holland Landscapes. We can help you to make the improvements you need so that you can love your garden more. From wheelchair friendly paths to stunning floral displays to whole garden makeovers. We have the skills and experience to create what you want and need.