10 ways to get ahead in autumn

Gardener maintaining secateurs

Shortening days and falling temperatures in autumn mean its time to swing into action and get your garden into shape, before the winter sets in.

Autumn is the perfect season to get ahead to ensure you’ll have less to do in spring.

Anything that can be done ahead of the hectic spring period is a bonus. When everything explodes into growth and the days are never long enough, you’ll be pleased to have stolen a march on spring.

Here are 10 jobs you can do in autumn to get a head start.


 

Lay a new lawn

Gardener laying turf
Gardener laying turf

Lay a new lawn using turf, or replace a patch by weeding and reseeding it. If you have a large area to cover, sow a new lawn. The damp, warm conditions in autumn mean the seeds will germinate quickly, with only minimal watering needed.

 

Repair your lawn

Gardener scarifying a lawn
Gardener scarifying a lawn

Applying an autumn lawn fertiliser will encourage a stronger, healthier lawn that will need less looking after. Rake out the dead grass or ‘thatch’ first, to ensure feed gets through to the roots. Weed and reseed any patches that need it.

 

Plant up a border or makeover an existing one

Perennial plant with exposed rootball
Perennial plant with exposed rootball

Autumn is a good time to plant or move hardy plants like trees, shrubs, roses and perennials. Warm soil encourages speedy root growth and autumn rain should keep them well watered. Your plants will become established over winter and will romp away in spring.

 

Divide perennials

Gardener dividing rootball
Gardener dividing rootball

Divide perennials as they become dormant. It will increase their vigour and will give you plants for free. Find out how to divide perennials.

 

Plant bare-root plants

Bare-root tree prior to planting
Bare-root tree prior to planting

Planting dormant, bare-root roses, trees, shrubs, hedges and perennial plants in autumn and winter is not only economical – the plants will establish quickly too. Discover plants to plant bare root.

 

Pull up annual weeds

Chickweed before being pulled out
Chickweed before being pulled out

Pull up flowering annual weeds such as chickweed now before they set seed in spring.

 

Tie in climbers and stake trees

Tree stake supporting a young tree
Tree stake supporting a young tree

Inspect trellis and arches to make sure they’re secure. Otherwise, autumn and winter gales could bring the whole lot down. A quick fix now is better than a wholesale repair in spring. Tie in plants securely, stake trees and check and adjust existing ties.

 

Sow hardy annuals and sweet peas

Pink sweet pea flowers
Pink sweet pea flowers

Sow hardy annuals direct, if you have well-drained soil, or under cover, and you’ll get earlier flowers next year. Find out how to create a bed of hardy annualsSow sweet peas in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame – plants will be sturdier and bloom longer than spring-sown ones.

 

Deep clean the greenhouse

Gardeners cleaning a greenhouse
Gardeners cleaning a greenhouse

Cleaning now will beat bugs and diseases, and it will be ready to go next spring. Empty completely, removing shading. Wash glass inside and out, washing staging and removing debris and old pots that tend to be ‘snail hotels’. Dry and store capillary matting. Find out how to clean and tidy a greenhouse.

 

Clean and sharpen tools

Gardener sharpening secateurs
Gardener sharpening secateurs

Maintain tools by cleaning, maintaining, sharpening and oiling tools – they’ll last longer and will be ready for next year. Watch Alan Titchmarsh sharpen garden tools in our No Fuss video guide. Maintain your lawn mower or send it for a service, too.

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