1. Start raking the leaves
This is important to prevent build-up accumulating, and the raked leaves can be used for compost. Spreading some over flower beds will create a fertile mulch and an excellent foraging area for birds.
2. Remove anything vulnerable to cold
Delicate outdoor plants like dahlias should be brought in from the garden and potted somewhere light and warm. If the plant needs pruning, no more than a third of it should be removed.
3. Leave the hedges
Avoid having hedges trimmed until February or March, as otherwise wildlife food sources such as berries and insects could be destroyed. Leaving them will help to attract birds into your garden.
4. Plant evergreens
W. J. Bean, the former curator of Kew Gardens, recommended planting evergreen shrubbery and trees during this time. In his seminal book, Trees and Shrubs Hardy In The British Isles, he wrote: “All deciduous plants should be planted after the leaves have changed colour, but just before they fall.”
5. Clean the pond
It is best to have ponds cleaned between October and January, as wildlife will not be as affected then. Vegetation in the water could be sheltering newts and smaller creatures like dragonflies and snails, so care should be taken when removing any excess.
6. Look after the lawn
After removing fallen leaves, it is a good idea to aerate the lawn. At this time of year rainfall can clog the soil, preventing it from draining water effectively. This can be remedied either by rolling a lawn aerator across it, or simply by using a garden fork.
7. Start weeding
With temperatures slowly falling, autumn is a sensible time to have as much weeding done as possible. Weeds can be pulled from beds and vegetable patches, while a suitable weed killer can be applied to the lawn. Common ones like thistles and dandelions are more susceptible to chemical treatments now than they are in the summer.
8. Scatter some seeds
Cosmos, poppy and cleome seeds often sprout roots when tossed across soil in the autumn, and benefit from the conditioning effects of winter snow. Rather than plant these neatly, imitate a wildflower effect by having them sprinkled throughout the garden in patches.
9. Choose flowering plants for winter
Selecting a mix of plants which flower during winter will bring much-needed vibrancy to your garden. Pastel pink camellias, for example, could be grown in decorative containers if filled with acidic compost. They thrive on rain rather than tap water, so a wet winter is likely to encourage colourful blooms.
10. Plant bulbs
This is the ideal time to plant bulbs, laying the groundwork for delightful displays of flowers next spring. To ensure that the bulbs remain firmly in place, and that the soil in the beds does not crack, cover the area with evergreen foliage and branches.
Do you need more inspiration? Just read our interesting article about garden design.