§ Continue to clear leaves from lawns to avoid brown patches; collect up the leaves in leaf mould bags or pile them onto the compost to create lovely mulch for next year’s borders. Rake them up, then mow over to chop, then gather them up – this will make their conversion to leaf mould much quicker.
§ Check that newly planted container grown trees/shrubs/roses are firmed in, strong winds can rock them and loosen the roots forming a gap at the base which will collect rain water, freeze and damage the roots.
§ Aerate and feed lawns to help them recover from heavy summer use, and prepare for the coming cold months.
§ Start to wrap containers that need protection with fleece, or hessian. Alternatively, bring the whole thing inside before the risk of a hard frost. Citrus, tender agapanthus, dahlias and pelargoniums all need to come inside to somewhere frost free. They don’t need light in this dormant phase, so under a bench in a potting shed or greenhouse is ideal.
§ Pile bark mulch over the crowns of hardy fuchsias to provide winter protection.
§ After a good summer, the soil is warmer than usual. It’s moist too, so now is a good time to mulch wherever there’s bare soil. Spread home-made compost, leaf mould or green waste from your local council a good inch and a half deep. It helps to condition soil, retain moisture and suppress weeds.
§ Raise the cutting height when mowing the lawn and apply an autumn food. Use a fork or hollow-tined aerator to spike your lawn and improve drainage. Continue to collect fallen leaves. New turf can still be laid.
§ On a dry day, mow the grass quite tightly, particularly where you have bulbs. They will then show clearly through the grass next spring. Crocus and snowdrops on the lawn edge are a huge addition, and you’ll see them so much more clearly if the grass is well cut.
§ Turn the compost heap.
If your garden has trees it is worth saving the leaves to make leaf mould which is an excellent mulch for the garden. It is easy to make a pen; just mould chicken wire into a bin with stake in each corner to give structure. Rake up and pile the leaves in and they will rot down over the gardening year ready to spread on borders as mulch following winter/spring. You can tell when its ready as it will be well rotted, and crumbly. If you have no space you can store in bin bags but it is important to put holes in to allow the air otherwise it will become a slimy mess
§ Sow green manure crops over bare areas of soil.
§ Insulate your cold frame with polystyrene sheeting for extra protection.