Autumn really is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Now that summer’s enervating heat has gone, it’s time to take advantage of the bright blue days and cooler weather to get your garden back under control – battened down for winter and well prepared for the inevitable return of spring.
First and foremost, you need to get rid of summer’s exuberant abundance, which is another way of saying that the garden probably needs a darn good tidy! This means pruning, raking, sweeping, clipping back and ripping out. Not only does this neaten everything up, but it also deters pests and provides a good supply of material for the compost heap.
In the vegie garden, it’s time to rip out all the stuff that has gone to seed and prepare the beds for planting winter crops, such as broad beans, broccoli, lettuce, onion, peas, radish, shallots, spinach, spring onion and turnip. Check your local Bunnings Warehouse for varieties that suit your area.
If you have an abundant amount of mature compost, autumn is the perfect time to spread it over the flower and vegie beds, before covering with a layer of mulch. If you don’t have a ready supply of compost, use a pelletised manure beneath the mulch instead. Why use mulch in winter? Well, you might not be losing as much water from the soil surface as in summer, but in many areas, winter can be pretty dry, so give your garden a good long soak before mulching. Mulch also acts as a weed deterrent in milder climates where weeds persist, and it keeps the soil warmer in areas of frost. And of course, it’s gradually going to break down, adding lots of organic matter to the soil. What’s not to love about mulch?
And now for the lawn. Get rid of weeds and winter grass. You can either dig these out or talk to your local nursery about a selective spray. Then it’s time to aerate with the tines of your fork or – much more fun – a pair of lawn aerator sandals – and fertilise with a good-quality lawn food. When mowing, raise the height of the mower blades so that the slightly longer grass will protect the roots from frost.
Finally, if you fancy tip-toeing through tulips or wading amongst a host of golden daffodils in the spring, you need to plant your bulbs now.
Then it’s time to sit in the autumn sun with a celebratory cup of tea and think about what you’re going to plant come spring.