The Big Autumn Tidy Up

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.

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 seed heads for birds to enjoy. Remove weeds, and then apply a dressing of compost or manure to the soil to protect and insulate your plants for the winter.

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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. 

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Clear away old crops
Clear spent plants on the veg plot before they start to rot and become host to pests and diseases. Compost all ‘soft’ plant material 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.

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 to a clean with Jeyes fluid to ensure they are disease free. Store them indoors over winter.

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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 an edging tool or knife. Set your mower blades higher than usual to leave the grass slightly longer over winter, and then cut the edges to redefine their pristine lines.

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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.

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Plant your bulbs
Daffodils, crocus and snowdrops are the perfect pick of the bunch to plant and by doing this, when spring arrives, your garden will come back to life. Bulbs are so easy to plant and take very little time. Plant approximately 3 times their depth with the nobble facing upwards. If you can not decipher which way is top or bottom with your bulbs, then plant them on their side and they will find their own way.

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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.

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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