Fellow green fingered gardeners of the UK. As you’ll well know, British Summer Time has come to an end. The clocks have gone back. The dark nights have drawn in. And Monty Don and the Gardener’s World crew have left a gaping hole in our Friday night TV schedule and gone into hibernation until the spring. Which can only mean one thing. Winter is coming. After a busy year of planting and potting, strimming and sweeping, your weekends of hard toil in the garden are nearly over.
But, while it will soon be time to put your feet up by the fire for a well-deserved rest, don’t hang up your gardening gloves just yet. If you can muster the energy, there are still a few jobs to do in the garden to ensure your lawn, patio, plants and local wildlife are prepared for the cold winter months ahead.
8 jobs to do in the garden this month
Leaves, leaves, everywhere
With autumn now in full swing, most trees in and around your garden will be dropping their leaves like nobody’s business. And if left unchecked, they’ll soon surround your house with a wet blanket of soggy brown foliage, affecting the quality of your lawn, clogging up your flowerbeds or pond, and turning your patio into a slimy, slippery health and safety hazard.
So, first things first, it’s the time of year to clean up those leaves. If you have a leaf blower, this job will take no time at all. But if not, a trusty rake or brush will do.
Top Tip: You don’t have to throw away old leaves in your garden waste bin. Instead, gather the leaves into a big pile in the corner of your garden; somewhere secluded where the wind can’t get to it. And after a few weeks, it will turn into leaf mould, which is a great natural fertiliser for hedging and shrubs!
Last mow of the year
With all the leaves cleared away, November is the month you should do your final mow of the lawn. Since the clocks turned back at the end of October, the days are now getting shorter and the weather colder. This means less sunlight and lower ground temperatures, which signals to your lawn that it’s time to go into hibernation mode.
So, to keep your garden looking neat and tidy during the winter months, give your grass one final trim before putting your lawnmower and strimmer away for the winter.
We’ve been using the Bosch Rotak 32 R lawnmower and Advanced Grass Cut 36 cordless strimmer, which have both been brilliant – super lightweight and surprisingly powerful, helping me get the job done in record time.
Top Tip: For this final winter mow, don’t cut the grass as short as you might during the summer months, as it will leave the lawn vulnerable to the elements. Adjust the blade height on your lawn mower to its maximum setting (no shorter than 60mm) so the grass can be cut to a healthy length, that will help it retain the energy it needs until the warm weather returns.
End of autumn planting
If you’ve always thought that spring was the only time of year to do any planting, think again. Autumn is also a great time of year to add plants to your garden, both for new visual interest during the winter and in preparation for some early blooms in the spring.
If you want a garden full of daffodils or tulips come spring time, plant your bulbs now (either in the ground or in pots).
Top Tip: Don’t bunch them all too close together. Plant them at least twice the bulb’s width apart, and at a depth of around two to three times the height of the bulb for the best results (and to reduce the risk of mould damage or disease).
Late autumn is also a great time to introduce new plants to your garden, especially things like hedging, trees, shrubs and roses. Just check what type of soil you have in your area (sand or clay, acid or alkaline), and choose plants that like growing where you live. The soil around us is very acidic and sandy, so is perfect for Rhododendrons, Camellias and English Yew (all of which we’re planting in our garden this autumn).
Patio power wash
If you have a patio or any paving in your garden, now is the time of year to give it a proper wash down. Over the summer and autumn months, patios naturally gather dust and grime, which, if left unchecked, encourages moss growth that can make paving extremely slippery underfoot, especially in wet and cold conditions.
But if you give your patio a good pressure wash now, it will clear away any grime, bringing the paving back to its natural stone, thereby reducing the risk of any unwanted/dangerous slippery patches during the colder months.
I’ve been using the Bosch UniversalAquatak 125 pressure washer which, once connected to our hose and domestic power supply, blasted away every spec of grime from our paving in no time at all. It also proved very effective at cleaning our outside furniture and gave the cars a proper hose down too! Plus, the whole contraption folds down into a compact box, so great for anyone with limited shed space…
Protect your pots
If, like us, you have lots of potted plants around your garden, you should start thinking about how you will protect them during the colder, wetter months. Not just the plants, mind, but the pots too, as they are susceptible to cracking (and are pricey to replace).
So, before the first frost arrives, move them into a sheltered spot of the garden, ideally a porch, conservatory or greenhouse. But if that’s not an option, don’t worry. Just crowd your pots together against a wall or under a tree, which will keep them warmer and protected from the elements.
Top Tip: The biggest risk to potted plants in winter is when they get waterlogged and their compost freezes. To avoid this, raise pots up off the ground on ‘feet’ or similar, to ensure your pots have good drainage (i.e. aren’t sitting on saucers or flat on the ground).
Trim your bush
Similar to your lawn, any hedging in your garden will also stop growing during the winter months. So, to keep them looking neat and tidy, now is the time for a final trim before the cold weather arrives.
We’ve been using the Bosch EasyHedgeCut 18-45 on our laurel hedges, which has been great for a last-minute spruce up. It’s cordless too, so can be used literally anywhere around the garden that you need it.
Top Tip: For hardier varieties like hornbeam, beech or laurel, you can be quite brutal with your cutting back, particularly if you want to reshape a bush or border, or if they’ve been left to go a bit wild during the summer. However hard you cut them, so long as the plant is well established, it will all grow back, good as new, once the warmer weather returns.
Feed the birds
With all these physical jobs to do, don’t forget to make time to support the wildlife that lives in your garden, by putting out additional food and water to keep them topped up over the winter months. Garden birds in particular benefit from feeding all year round, especially during the winter as the ground freezes and they struggle to find the bugs and worms that they rely on during the rest of the year.
So, use this month to top up your bird feeders with a variety or seeds and nuts, which you can buy in bulk from your local garden centre or Wilkos. Once it gets colder, birds massively benefit from foodstuffs with a high fat content to help keep them warm, so consider buying suet bird feeders and putting out bits of bacon, little gratings of cheese or even over-ripe apples and raisins to keep the birds well-stocked. You can even make your own fat balls by melting suet into moulds, for example coconut shells or logs with holes drilled in!
Top Tip: Make sure you properly soak and wash your bird feeders at least once a year. They can harbour lots of pests and diseases that can be harmful to the birds, so if you haven’t cleaned yours in a while, do it now!
Clean your garden tools
And last but not least (if you have any energy left) I can’t stress enough the benefits of cleaning your garden tools before you shut them away in the damp shed and forget about them until next year.
It doesn’t take long to do. Whether it’s scraping old grass off your lawnmower and giving its undercarriage a scrub with a wire brush. Or sharpening any tools that have a blade and giving them a quick spray of WD40 to prevent rusting. With a little extra care, you can significantly extend the life of your garden equipment and ensure everything is in order (and rust free) for when you venture back into the shed next spring!
This sponsored post has been written in collaboration with Bosch, who loaned us some of their garden equipment to complete my autumn garden jobs this year!