A transitional time of year, autumn is an incredibly important season when it comes to gardening. From the extremes of the hot Australian summer, the weather from March to May changes dramatically wherever you find yourself in the country, but gardeners in the south who experience a true autumn will perhaps see a more marked change than those in the north.
So what do you need to do in the lead-up to winter around your garden? Here are just four handy hints that will ensure your patch looks good through the chilliest time of year.
1) Deal with the leaves
The later in autumn we get, the greater the amount of leaves being dropped. It’s a fact of life, albeit an annoying one. It’s important that you stay on top of the leaves falling into your garden – a build-up can harm a variety of plants, particularly your lawn which will generally benefit from as much access to the sun as possible, especially in late autumn. A build-up of damp leaves can also encourage fungi and diseases to spread within your plants.
Rather than tossing the raked leaves in a green bin, consider making a leaf mould – a mulch made of fallen leaves that is terrific for most plants. It’s as simple as forming a bit of chicken wire into a circle and dropping the leaves in – the autumn rains will help to keep the leaves damp, and friendly insects will do the mulch conversion for you!
2) Raise your containers
Garden pots, planter boxes and other containers can become waterlogged if left on the ground as the weather starts to get cooler and damper. Most plants don’t particularly like sitting in cold water over winter, so late autumn is the perfect time to raise those containers. For areas prone to frosts, this water can also freeze in the early mornings, damaging a plant’s root system.
Use whatever you like – bricks, pieces of timber, purpose built pot feet, or alternatively find a nice ledge or windowsill to rest your plants on over the cold months.
3) Avoid pruning
Pruning can serve to kick a plant into gear and get it growing new shoots, branches and leaves. But because most plants tend to go dormant over autumn you want to avoid pruning until early spring, when the plant will be able to act on this encouragement.
By pruning in late autumn you’re essentially opening up a wound on the plant – and one that it won’t be able to fix very quickly. This wound will be an open invitation for pests and diseases to take over your plant when it’s at its most vulnerable. So put away the pruning and trimming tools while the weather is cool.
4) Tidy your greenhouse or garden shed
What’s better than a spring clean? An autumn clean. This may not be what you want to hear, but autumn is the perfect time to clear out your greenhouse or garden shed.
By getting rid of excess pots and planter boxes, and removing old compost and plants, you’re making your greenhouse or shed far less enticing to pests that may see it as the perfect breeding ground. Greenhouses are also the perfect place to store your less hardy plants over winter, as they maximise the available light and warmth while protecting the plants from the elements. This being the case, take the time to give the glass panes of your greenhouse a wipe down during late autumn to maximise the light that enters over the winter.
Do you have any queries regarding how best to take care of your lawn or garden in late autumn? Don’t hesitate to contact the friendly team of experts at McKays!