Gardening Tips: Before The Leaves Fall

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Autumn is the perfect time to get out in the garden and have a good old fashioned clear up
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Autumn is the perfect time to get out in the garden and have a good old fashioned clear up

Autumn is a beautiful season and although the cooler weather is starting to creep in, there's still time to enjoy your garden. Prepare your patio and protect your plants with our top autumn gardening tips.

What to consider

Before you head outside to start clearing up your garden do your prep first:
  • What is your garden used for? Evenings snuggled up next to a toasty chiminea, sipping steaming hot chocolate with friends or putting on a fun firework display in November, autumn is the perfect time to get everyone together and enjoy your outdoor space. Or you could be a grow-your-own enthusiast, cultivating the space to provide food for the table. It can make a real difference when it comes to maintenance priorities.  
  • Space. Small or large, all outdoor space needs maintenance but this varies, from a quick sweep and repotting plants, to completely digging up an area. 
Make sure your entertainment area is clean and inviting
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Make sure your entertainment area is clean and inviting

Prepare the patio

Start where you plan to spend time entertaining: the patio. Scramble in the shed for, or borrow, a pressure hose and get the paving slabs scrubbed up clean to prevent further build up over the winter months. This is also great for getting rid of moss, which can damage your patio. Brush the dirty water off with a strong, bristle brush and leave to dry. Wash down any chairs or tables that you also have outside regularly, as spiders enjoy using these for their makeshift homes. 
Lay new lawns in autumn so they're established by spring
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Lay new lawns in autumn so they're established by spring

Love your lawn

It’s important you prepare the lawn for the cold weather, remove moss and old grass with a rake and use moss killer if it is getting out of hand. If the soil is looking worn try making holes across the area with a garden fork, this helps create better drainage for the soil.
Autumn is also a great time to lay down fresh turf if the soil isn’t too wet, as it leaves plenty of time for it to take hold and establish before spring comes round. Throw down some lawn feed to give it a boost early on. 
Clean out greenhouses ready for when spring rolls round
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Clean out greenhouses ready for when spring rolls round

Grapple the greenhouse

Now is the time to clean out your greenhouses and cold frames, ready for the cooler weather. You should also remove any greenhouse shading as the shorter days draw in, so light is a precious resource for any plants in there. Inside the greenhouse remove all the plants and sweep out any plant debris, disinfect the sides and paths and give the inside of the glass a good scrub too. You might not think so, but winter is a great time to plant some vegetables ready for moving to the main allotment area in the spring. Onions, garlic, peas, carrots and asparagus all thrive when planted in the winter in your newly clean greenhouse. 
Make sure herb gardens are cared for over colder months
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Make sure herb gardens are cared for over colder months

Help your herbs

It’s a good idea to move your herbs inside for the winter, most species are pretty hardy and can thrive in poor soil and conditions, but by moving them into the conservatory or on to the kitchen window sill, you can ensure they thrive all winter long. They are also easy to gain access to while cooking comforting roast dinners on cold days.  
Compost bins are a cheap and easy way to boost plant growth
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Compost bins are a cheap and easy way to boost plant growth

Clear out the compost

Autumn is a great time to clear out compost bins and distribute their nourishing goodness round to your border plants, so they can enjoy a burst of nourishment before it starts to get colder. Use the falling leaves, plant debris from the greenhouse and any lifeless plants you’ve dug up throughout your clear up to start off a new batch of compost. 
Make sure ponds are protected with a net
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Make sure ponds are protected with a net

Protect your pond

Ponds can quickly get dirty and autumn is the worst time as fallen leaves land in the water, creating mess and clogging up the filter. To prevent this fit a net over the pond to catch any falling leaves or debris and clear these off regularly (place them in your newly started compost bin). Pond nets are also great for protecting fish from predators, such as cats and herons. Another good idea is to place a couple of tennis balls in the pond to prevent the water from freezing completely overnight. As they float on top they don't allow the water to stay still so ice can't build up easily. 
Keep tender plants safe from frost by lifting them
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Keep tender plants safe from frost by lifting them

Tend to tender plants

It is important that you lift any tender plants, such as dahlias and begonias, before frosts can do any damage. It’s as simple as cutting back the stems and gently lifting the plant from the ground. Store them in trays of dry compost and keep in a cool frost-free place, ready to be replanted in spring. 
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