Jobs for the October Garden
Autumn’s fallen leaves are precious and shouldn’t be wasted in a garden. Rake them up to make leaf mould to be used next autumn as a mulch and soil improver. If they aren’t too wet, use the mower to break them up, especially if you have a large garden. The leaves decompose faster if broken up and kept damp. Make a simple container with four stakes and chicken wire in a corner of the garden to contain fallen leaves. If you have limited space, rake them into plastic bags; left over compost bags are ideal. Punch holes in the bags and leave in an out-of-the-way space to rot down.
Cut back herbaceous perennials (plants that die back in the winter and re-appear in the spring) that have finished flowering. This make the garden look tidier and discourages diseases attacking old growth. If on some plants the flowers have finished but the foliage is still green and attractive, leave it until it is really blackened by frosts. Cutting everything down can leave unsightly gaps in the borders and should be avoided until as late in the autumn as possible. Any soft growth that has been cut down, such as geraniums for example, can be consigned to the compost heap or ‘green bin’ if you have a collection in your area. Save money by collecting seeds from perennial plants and storing in labelled paper bags over the winter, ready to be sown next spring.
Reduce the frequency of mowing and raise the height of the cutting blades in the mower as grass that is cut too short over the winter will not stand up to the poorer weather conditions and will be more likely to become infested with moss and weeds. If it’s just a small area, work in a fork as deeply as possible all over the grass. For larger lawns it’s best to hire an aerator to do this backbreaking job.