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Autumn gardening tips

Without a doubt, autumn is the best time to rejuvenate your garden! There is an array of jobs that need doing, which can make it one of the busiest times. Make sure you utilise April’s upcoming long weekends to tackle some of those garden maintenance jobs you have been putting off for months.

Before you begin, you will need to sit back and look at your garden with fresh eyes to ensure you don’t miss anything that needs doing. Consider these tips below before you begin to ensure your garden is flourishing come spring!

Lawn care

With winter in sight, we can expect low temperatures and weak sunshine so it’s time to give your lawns that necessary TLC before the cold spell really sets in.

  • When leaves fall throughout autumn, make sure they are cleared on a regular basis. If leaves are left on the lawn, the grass will be deprived of light, encouraging the formation of dry, brown patches, with the potential for moss growth.

  • Mow your lawn for the last time around the beginning of May. Make sure the grass is longer than 5cm as this helps to make better use of less sunlight – ensuring better resistance against weeds and moss.

  • A weed and fertilise is also a necessity. Try an autumn fertiliser which usually have a low nitrogen and high potassium content. The increased amount of potassium strengthens the grass and increases its resistance to cooler temperatures.

  • Check lawns for signs of fungal disease. Cobwebby brown patches are telltale signs of dollar spot. Lawns can also be affected by rust. Both will weaken the lawn so it is best to spray with fungicide if necessary.

Get planting

Autumn is a great time for planting and transplanting as the soil maintains sufficient moisture levels thanks to more regular rain. The ground is also still warm from the summer so the plants still have enough time to get used to their new position and form new roots before winter.

  • Plant bulbs so their flowers germinate from the soil come spring to add some colour to your garden. Plant in the ground at a depth of two to three times their height.

  • Plant ageratum, pansies, salvia, dianthus, primula, cineraria, lobelia and viola throughout autumn to guarantee delightful spring blooms.

  • Late March is a great time to plant some fast growing herbs. Consider parsley, coriander, chives, winter savory and dill which will all grow well from seeds.

  • Get your vegie patch going by planting seedlings of broccoli, cauliflower, silverbeet, broad beans, carrots and strawberries so that you can harvest them in spring.

Feed your garden

Your garden requires nutrients to help it survive the cooler months throughout winter. Consider mulching and collecting compost to give your garden the help it needs.

  • Compost is the best product for your garden, and you can make it for free while reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. So if you don’t have a compost heap already, it’s time to start one! Autumn leaves are a great source of nutrients and organic matters and will soon be in abundant supply as the weather changes.

  • Compost can also be made with a balanced combination of leaves, lawn clippings, fertiliser or manure, fruit and vegie scraps and water.

  • Using a garden fork to turn your compost occasionally, helps it to decompose.

  • Mulching will improve your soil quality, keep it moist, stop it eroding, and stop weeds from growing. There are a number of different mulch options you can choose to suit different garden beds.

  • Before you put down mulch, remove any weeds. Your mulch should be 5-10cms thick.

Cut back

It is important to groom your garden before the wild weather sets in. Not only will it help to keep your gardens tidy, but will also help to minimize safety risk of fallen branches and leaves during winter. Cutting back will also help to promote growth in the coming months.

  • Pruning is the best way to promote new growth and can encourage late autumn flowering. Prune back any old growth on plants by trimming at the base.

  • Trimming your hedges allows in light and air and encourages new growth. Only cut hedges back as far as you can without creating any holes as these will not grow back over winter and the hedge could look bare. Any tree leaves lying on the hedge should also be removed to ensure the hedge receives enough fresh air and sun.

  • When shrubs go yellow, their stems bend towards the ground or they start to go to seed, it is time to cut them down. This is due to the plant now drawing their sap back to their roots. If they are not cut down, they may decay.

  • Bushes and shrubs can be cut to approximately a quarter of their size. However, this can vary according to the type of bush or shrub.

Around the home

There is also a wide variety of odd jobs that should be done in autumn.

Care for your tools

Maintaining your garden tools makes them easier to use and can extend their life. Sharpen and disinfect your pruners with a cleaning agent and apply oil. Lightly sand any tools with wooden handles and apply linseed oil to keep them smooth. If your tools have rusted, apply penetrating oil and scrub with steel wool to remove it. Oil the tools to prevent rust from returning. Clean and sharpen hand tools. Wash gardening gloves or replace them if they're old. Stow some sunscreen in the same place as your tools, plus an old pair of sunglasses for eye protection.

Clear your gutters and drains

As the leaves start falling, it's a good idea to keep an eye on your gutters. Clean your gutters out so they don't overflow in early autumn showers, which can lead to water damage inside or outside your home. If your drainpipe is blocked, stick your garden hose down the pipe and turn it on to flush it out. Walk around your home and check that your drains aren’t covered with leaves or rubbish. If they are, you can have fun scooping it out. Adding 100mls of neat bleach helps unclog your drains.

Chemicals

Start by sorting through your pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and spraying equipment. Check use-by dates and remove anything with leaky packaging. If you can no longer read the label, it is time to throw it out. Make sure you don't throw chemicals in the bin – instead, contact your local council to find out your safe disposal options.

Pools and ponds

Check and clean the pump and filter. Trim off dead foliage from plants in and around the area. If you have floating plants in your pond and they are covering the surface too thickly, scoop some out and add these to the compost heap. Stretch a net over the pool or pond to catch falling leaves throughout the winter months.