For many gardeners and non-gardeners alike, the season of autumn is their favourite time of year.
Although the nights start to draw in, there is just enough light in the day to enjoy the golden yellows and oranges of autumn leaves, as well as the various shrubs the foliage of which turns a fiery red.
For the gardener, however, autumn signals the dying days of the growing year and the time has come to do some basic garden tasks. All too soon, the grey and cold of winter will set in and it will be too late to do some of these tasks, leading to damage and even more work in the spring months.
Although autumn is a delight when it comes to colour, autumnal weather can be anything but. With jet streams moving and the earth tilting away from the sun, autumn rain and gales can be common place. For the more sensitive plants in the garden, this can be a testing time.
With this in mind, what should you as a gardener be doing this autumn to prepare your garden for the colder weather?
Cover or store garden furniture
For many hours over the summer, you have probably enjoyed the sunshine and company of friends, dining al fresco in the garden and your garden furniture has done you well. Leave it to the ravages of the winter weather, however, and when you come to use it in the spring, it could be faded, jaded and damaged.
If you don’t have anywhere indoors to store it – shed or garage would do – then you will need to wrap up your rattan garden furniture well. You can buy covers specifically for certain pieces of garden furniture, or a cheaper option is to buy a large piece of tarpaulin. Whichever you choose, make sure that it is tied down well and check it periodically throughout the winter.
Although there may be a slight nip in the air, autumn is the perfect time to perform essential cleaning jobs in the garden, all in preparation for spring growth;
Clean out the water butt – harvesting rainwater is essential for any gardener but over winter, there can be an increase in algae and so on caused by detritus such as rotting leaves and seeds. This can cause problems if you use the water on tender seedlings in the spring, so autumn is the time to clean out the water butt. Empty the water butt and using a heavily-diluted mix of water and eco friendly disinfectant, scrub out the water butt, taking care to get all the growth from the bottom and around the tap etc. Rinse out and leave it to re-fill over winter.
Clean the gutters – the gutters are on our properties for one reason: to funnel away rainwater as quickly and effectively as possible. However, over the year, the gutter can become clogged with leaves, seeds and all kinds of rubbish. Left too long, the pooling water can damage the guttering, as well as cause problems with your property, both inside and out. If it is safe to do so, clean out the gutters or call on a local company to do it for you.
Autumn leaves – golden in colour, autumn leaves are a delight until, that is, they are heaped on your garden, presenting you with a slip hazard when the ground is wet. Also, rotting leaves around plants will hid all kinds of pests which as your spring saplings and seedlings unfurl will be gorged upon by the emerging larvae. Sweep them up and either put them out with your green waste or create your own leaf mulch. Simple and easy to do, you can use the mulch as a welcome fertiliser in the spring.
Help sensitive plants survive the winter months – not all plants enjoy winter and the cold that it brings. Some plants enjoy being wrapped up over the winter months. Don’t use plastic which will make the plant ‘sweat’, but hessian sacks. If they need extra insulation, straw stuffed between it and the sack offers the perfect solution.
Spring clean the greenhouse (in autumn!) – the greenhouse and cold frame are the places you will rely on in spring to shield your tender seedlings from the cooler nights. If you have allowed pests to shelter here over the winter by not cleaning and organising pots and gardening utensils, then your tender seeds may not live to flourish into summer. This is because these pests will be gorging on them!
Encourage the right wildlife – there are some bugs and critters that we want in the garden and as a gardener, you can encourage them in autumn to set up home to hibernate over winter. Lady bugs eat the white and green fly that eat the brassicas and so investing in a ladybird house is the perfect option. Welcome frogs too, as well as feeding the garden birds that eat the bugs you don’t want.
What other jobs will you be doing this autumn in the garden?
Rattan Direct have a range of garden furniture and accessories, perfect for enjoying the all season in your garden.
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