The colors are beginning to fade and your crops have all been harvested for food. This can only mean one thing: autumn is coming to a close and everyone is bracing for the cold winter weather, including your garden. But this does not mean your work in the garden is over until next spring. Autumn is actually an extremely important time to get in the garden to help ensure its health for the upcoming season. Here are 7 tips to make sure your garden is prepared for winter:
1) Tidy Borders
Dig up annuals and add them to the compost heap. You can replant your beds with winter bedding such as pansies, bellis daisies, and wallflowers for a colorful array next spring. Autumn is also the perfect time to move poorly placed plants and divide overcrowded perennials while the soil is still warm. Once your borders are clean and tidy, spread a thick layer of compost, bark chips or well rotted manure across them.
2) Lawn Maintenance
If your lawn looks worn down then autumn is the perfect time for you to revitalise it. Remove any old grass clippings and moss using a spring tined rake and add it to the compost heap. However, if you have a large amount of moss then you should consider using a moss killer first. In areas that receive a lot of wear, the soil can become compacted. Therefore, it is important to improve drainage and aeration by making deep holes with the prongs of a garden fork every 10 cm throughout the area.
3) Make Leaf Mould
Leaf mould adds structure and organic matter to your soil. Most of the leaves from deciduous trees and shrubs will rot down to make lovely leaf compost in a couple of years. Oak, alder, beech and hornbeam rot fairly quickly. Shredding the leaves first will help to speed things up. Collect the leaves in a bin or bag and sprinkle it with water. Give the bags a good shake before stacking them out of sight (and forget about them for 2 years). Once the leaves reach a crumbly texture they can be spread as a mulch throughout your borders.
4) Clear Out Compost Bins
The autumn clean up always generates a lot of material for the compost bin. That is why it is a good idea to clear out last year’s compost and use it around the garden. If your older compost is not quite ready to use in the garden then turn it to improve decomposition and create a new heap.
5) Plant Evergreens
Evergreens should form the backbone of every garden. They provide structure and year round interest to the garden. Autumn is the perfect time to fill in those gaps in your borders. For a list of even more plants that are perfect for the winter months, check out this article.
6) Net Ponds
Cover your pond with a net to prevent leaves from falling into the water. Decomposing leaves can turn your pond water foul and even block filters on pumps. This can be easily prevented by spreading a fine meshed net across the pond and pinning it down with bricks.
7) Maintain Garden Equipment
Before you store your lawn mower in the garage or shed, it is a good idea to send it for service to ensure that it is in perfect condition for next spring. After the long gardening season, your shears and secateurs will need sharpening. Spades, forks and other tools will benefit from a good cleaning as well. Dry them thoroughly and oil the metal parts to prevent rust. Wooden handles could be cleaned and protected with linseed oil.