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Tidying the garden in autumn

Autumn is the ideal time to give your garden a thorough tidy, before the cold weather sets in. As well as clearing fallen leaves, there are lots of other simple tasks that will make a big difference to the look of your garden. It's worth putting in a little extra time and effort, so your garden will look neat and well-tended through the winter months.


Clearing old stems and foliage from a border

Tidy your borders

Remove dying leaves and collapsed stems from herbaceous perennials, either pulling by hand or cutting at the base with secateurs. Leave any stems carrying seedheads for birds to enjoy. Remove weeds, then spread compost over the soil to insulate plant roots.

Collecting autumn leaves

Collect autumn leaves

While a few piles of leaves in out-of-the-way places can provide shelter for overwintering wildlife, your lawn and borders will look much tidier if you collect and compost as many leaves as you can. Wet leaves can also be slippery underfoot if left on paths and patios. 

Pulling up old tomato plants

Clear away old crops

Clear spent plants on the veg plot before they start to rot and become host to pests and diseases. Compost everything unless it’s diseased. Chop beans and peas off at ground level, leaving their nitrogen-fixing roots in the soil to feed next year’s crops.

Using a half-moon edger on a lawn

Leave your lawn looking trim

Nothing sets off borders better that a neatly cut and edged lawn, so mow for the final time and cut the edges with a half-moon tool. Set your mower blades higher than usual to leave the grass slightly longer over winter, then cut the edges to redefine their pristine lines.

Removing old runner bean stems from a wigwam support

Put away plant supports

Cut down annual climbers in borders and climbing beans in veg plots and remove the dead stems and foliage from their supports. With canes and other removable wooden supports, wash off any soil then treat them with preservative. Store them indoors over winter. 

Painting wood preservative on a fence

Make repairs

Repair damage to raised beds, sheds and compost bins, and paint them with wood preservative. Replace any rotting fence posts, so they don’t get blown down in winter storms. Ensure shed roofs don’t leak, and replace any broken panes or faulty vents in greenhouses.

Washing a bird feeder

Clean out nest boxes and feeders

Take down bird boxes and empty them. Old nesting material, unfertilised eggs and other debris may carry diseases, so wash out the boxes with hot water before putting them back. Also remember to clean out feeders and bird baths, and regularly refill them.

Scooping autumn leaves from a pond using a net

Sort out your pond

Scoop out leaves that have blown into your pond, before they sink down and start to rot. Also cut back the foliage of marginal plants that have died down. Remove pond pumps and fountains that are no longer in use. Wash them out thoroughly, then store over winter.




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