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Though we get great joy from maintaining and enjoying our outdoor spaces, there’s no denying that keeping a garden in good condition takes year-round time and effort. From cutting down perennials in February to planting greenhouse seedlings in December to reap the benefits of an early flower, staying on top of our green-fingered to-do list can feel daunting.
We find that taking it step-by-step can be the difference between enjoying our garden maintenance jobs and feeling overwhelmed by them, and so, this weekend, we’re tackling 10 easy outdoor tasks that will ensure our outdoor spaces are in tip-top condition come autumn.
As we were always told, it pays to prepare, and that’s never been more true than when it comes to our gardens. Country Living spoke to gardening expert, Rebecca Baron, to find out exactly what we should be getting on with over the next few weeks.
We suggest putting on a good playlist (here are 30 of the most popular songs to listen to while gardening) and ticking these off one-by-one…
10 easy gardening jobs to prepare for autumn
1. Continue to feed and water pots
“As well as an immediate benefit, feeding and watering pots around this time will mean you can enjoy extended flowering well into the autumn.
“People tend to neglect their pots around this time of year or assume that, when it begins to rain more as we head toward autumn, their potted plants are automatically watered. However, the water tends to just run off.
“A good soak, at least once a week, is better than a dribble every day.”
2. Tidy up perennials
“Tidying up perennials — particularly alchemilla mollis — not only makes the garden look tidier, but also prevents widespread seeding that can end up taking over your garden.
“The frothy yellow flowers are now setting seed, so tidying up now will prevent it being over-run.”
“Weeding now will pay dividends later on in the year. It’s one of the easier, more soothing jobs in a garden, just make sure you aim to pull out each weed from the root.
“A Japanese weeding hoe is a great tool — it’s a joy to hold and makes the job rather fun.”
4. Deadhead roses
“Deadheading roses will encourage continuing bloom, and mean you can enjoy a second flush of colour in your garden, as summer flowers begin to die.
“Make certain you dispose of any leaves with dark marks on as that will help discourage the fungus that causes black spot.”
5. Order bulbs
“Order your bulbs to plant in the autumn, often bulbs sell out ahead of season so it’s worth stocking up now.
“Autumn flowering crocuses (although actually not a crocus at all, but rather a colchicum) are particularly popular and look best planted in grass or under trees.
“The bulk of planting begins in September, but planting them into pots and bringing them nearer to the house means you can enjoy them, rather than losing them in the wider garden.”
6. Trim hedges
“Give hedges a trim now that the baby birds have fledged, so that they’ll look good throughout the autumn and winter.
“You might want to think about cutting an undulating shape into your hedges to create interest in your garden. There’s a lovely Japanese word “shakkei”, which refers to the art of bringing in the outside, and interesting hedges are a straightforward way to create this illusion.”
7. Tidy and top-up pond
“Trim back pond plants that are starting to die down and scoop out any leaves. Be ready with netting for a small pond to stop leaves falling into the water and creating a sludge of rotting leaves at the bottom.
“If your pond level has dropped due to the hot weather, it’s ideally topped up with rain water from a water butt. Using tap water leaves your pond at risk of developing algae. If you are using tap water, leave it in a bucket for 24-hours to allow the chlorine to clear.”
8. Prune lavender
“Prune lavender once the flowers have started to die; take off around two to three centimetres to tidy up the bush, avoiding cutting into the woody growth so that the plant can recover. A good rule of thumb is about a third of your plant.”
“However, if this is the first year you’ve had lavender, let it establish itself before pruning it.”
9. Cut back herbs to encourage new growth
“Cutting back herbs will encourage a new flush of growth and prevent energy going into flower and seed production which will, in turn, reduce the flavour.
“Put up some chives for your indoor windowsill to leave you with fresh herbs for the winter.”
10. Fill in gaps with late-flowering plants
“If you’ve got gaps in your borders, filling them in with late-flowering plants — such as heleniums (‘moerheim beauty’ are particularly beautiful)— which give a fabulous pop of orange and keep the space feeling more sunny and alive through the autumn.”
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