The leaves are glowing in beautiful red tones, the wind is whistling through the trees and bonfires are crackling – autumn has arrived in your garden! The first frost isn’t far away. You’ll need to prepare your garden. There’s lots to do. You need to clear, rake and prune. When you’ve finished working you can enjoy the fresh autumn air with a lovely cup of tea on your patio.
TIME TO PRUNE YOUR SHRUBS
The shrub season is over and most birds have already flown south for the winter. Now you can prune your shrubs. They’ll stay in shape during the winter. The first frost lays a beautiful white carpet in your garden. Well-clipped shrubs look tranquil and elegant and create a lovely atmosphere in a winter garden.
TAKE CARE OF THE LEAVES
The trees in your garden are losing their leaves. You need to clear the fallen leaves away from flowers and fruit bushes. You should also clear your lawn and patio. Leaves are welcome in other places in your garden, especially where perennials aren’t growing. This creates a layer of mulch – an organic ground covering. You can scatter a thin layer of the leaves under your trees and bushes. This suffocates weeds, keeps the ground moist and protects the sensitive roots of your hydrangeas from frost. Your outdoor fuchsia or gladioli will also be grateful for a protective mulch layer. You can also protect late bulbs from the cold with a layer of mulch. Collect autumn leaves in a basket or heap in your garden. Then you’ll always have leaves ready to protect your plants from early winter.
PREPARE YOUR GARDEN FOR THE FIRST FROST
The first frost is on its way. It might come earlier than you think. That’s why it’s important to look ahead when you’re gardening. Even before the frost comes you should make sure you buy enough garden winter fleece. You can buy it as single piece, per meter or as sacks. You just need to pull a sack over each plant or cut the right size and wrap around your rose stems or potted plants. Winter fleece lets the correct amount of air flow in and protects against frost. Grow pods also provide good protection against frost and icy winds, especially in your vegetable garden. Put glass or plastic sheets over your plants and keep them dry and warm.
You can replant annuals like forget-me-nots, foxgloves and mulleins now. Then they’ll have time to adjust to their new spot and put down roots before winter comes. Dig up the plants and replant them where you want them to bloom next year. You can also dig up, prune and plant your verbena in pots. You can move the plants back to the flower beds in the spring. Phlox that has become too large can now be divided up and planted in pots. Put phlox plants in the greenhouse in pots. They’ll grow faster there than in the flowerbed. You can move your phlox back into the garden in the spring.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR ROSES
The queen of flowers needs some extra care in October: Cut off dead shoots and withered parts. Leave any rosebuds. They can form rosehips, which are valuable food for mammals and birds during the winter. It’s important to collect fallen and diseased rose petals from the flowerbeds.
The fungal disease Diplocarpon rosae, which causes black spots and other damage, survives even on leaves lying on the ground. If you don’t collect the diseased petals the fungus can attack your roses again during spring and summer.
CUT THE LAWN WHILE IT’S STILL GROWING
If you take care of your lawn for as long as possible in the autumn, it’s more likely to be green and lovely again in the spring. The following is a good motto: cut the grass while it’s still growing. Don’t forget, you should only cut the grass if the temperature is over six degrees. When it gets colder, your lawn needs to rest, and you won’t use your lawn mower as much. That’s why it’s a good idea to carry out maintenance on your lawn mower in the autumn and store it somewhere dry. Cut the grass to 4 cm before the first frost. Then if it snows the grass won’t get pushed down and damaged. Don’t leave the cut grass on the lawn; collect it and put it on the compost.
October is the perfect month to split old rhubarb plants. After eight to ten years, rhubarb doesn’t grow as well or produce so much. Rhubarb likes sun and nutrient-rich soil. Dig a planting hole and fill it with a few spadefuls of compost. Dig up the rhubarb plants and cut them into pieces with a sharp spade. Don’t forget that each root part must have at least one leaf bud – a shoot – in order to develop into a new plant. Split the plants up with a meter between them. During the first year you probably won’t be able to harvest anything and during the second year there will probably only be a few stalks in the spring. You’ll probably be able to harvest the rhubarb in the summer of the third year.
OCTOBER IS THE BEST TIME TO SORT OUT YOUR GARDEN BEDS
If you’ve been thinking about buying or building a raised garden bed, then October is the perfect month. There are plenty of things to find in October to fill your garden beds with. Autumn leaves, hedge cuttings or grass from mowing the lawn. Don’t forget to pack and tramp on the individual layers a few times. That will stop the earth sinking down too much later. The top layer should always consist of soil rich in nutrients and humus. Use your mature compost for this. If you don’t have enough, you can mix it with planting earth from the garden. The worms will love it and work their way into it until the spring sowing and planting.