October Garden Maintenance Jobs
As autumn closes in on our gardens it does so in a blaze of vibrant colour. Michaelmas daisies are at their most spectacular best and the autumn bulbs and cyclamen commence flowering. Leaf colour and berries are illuminated on sunny days with intensity. The last warm days are to be savoured. Every opportunity should be taken to tackle some of the jobs that will keep the garden in good shape for the colder months to come.
The most important job to do in the autumn garden is to rake up fallen leaves. If they are left in a thick layer on the lawn they will kill off the grass and fallen leaves left lying around plants can encourage the gardener’s foes – slugs and snails. Autumn leaves piled up and left to decompose for a year or two are one of the best ways of making organic matter to use in the future as a mulch or soil conditioner on the borders. Leaves can be put directly on the compost heap but to make leaf mold, create a separate container using stakes and chicken wire and pile in the leaves. Left to rot down, you should have a good friable source of organic matter to dig into the soil, as you would with compost.
Before the autumn gales, prune climbing roses and tie them into the support. Rose stems can be snapped by high winds so it is worth taking time and trouble over this job. If left, climbing roses can become a tangled mess of branches with very few flowers. First remove dead, diseased or dying branches, then tie in any new shoots that are needed to fill supports (all climbing roses need a support to grow on). Prune any flowered side shoots back by two thirds of their length. If the plant is heavily congested, cut out any really old branches from the base to promote new growth next year.
Reduce the frequency of mowing the lawn now and raise the height of the cutting blades in the mower. Grass that is kept too short over the winter has less chance of standing up to the weather conditions and is more likely to become invested with moss and weeds.
Rake out, thatch, aerate and top dress lawns. The autumn overhaul of your lawn will make a great difference to the grass after a summer of hard use. If you have larger lawns to deal with, powered machines can easily be bought or hired to help with all these jobs.