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Leaf Mould

October Garden Maintenance Tips

Autumn’s fallen leaves are precious and shouldn’t be wasted in a garden. Rake them up to make leaf mold 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.

This is a very industrious time in the garden, as it’s now that we put in the work that will give us payback next year. It’s worth thinking ahead now to the spring by planting bulbs… lots of them. Bulbs offer incredible value for money, giving instant impact. If possible, buy fewer varieties but larger numbers of each.

At the risk of stating the obvious, established lawns should be cut less frequently now as growth slows right down. A word of warning though: 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, since it is weaker. 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 (or dare I say neglect!). If you have larger lawns to deal with, powered machines can easily be bought or hired to help with all these jobs.

There is still time to move things around in the garden now while the soil is relatively warm. At this time of year there will be less need to water plants that have been moved as there would be in hot weather. Plan ahead for planting bare-root trees and shrubs next month. If you want long-lasting plants it’s worth preparing the ground well. If you are planning a border of shrubs and trees, dig over the entire area. It may seem a lot of work but will be worth it in the long term. Remove all the roots of perennial weeds (these are the ones that re-appear each year); if you leave even a tiny portion of root behind, the little blighters grow again. Dig in plenty of organic matter; this could be well-rotted manure or compost.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the harvest from your garden. Home grown apples and pears can be gathered and stored for enjoying in the winter months ahead.

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