7 ways to prepare your garden for Autumn

Charlie Albone shares exactly what you need to revive your garden after summer and prepare for the cooler months ahead.

Autumn in Australia is a gardener's dream. The heat of summer is dying down, plants feel less stifled and they finally start putting on some growth.

It’s the ideal time to get into the garden and enjoy it before the cooler months slow everything down to a halt.

Here's how to keep your garden alive and kicking during Autumn.

1. Divide and conquer your perennials

If your plants have become congested over summer, Autumn is the best time to divide them and relocate them.

Try to dig the whole plant out of the ground, keeping as big a root ball as possible. Use two forks back to back to prise the root ball apart into various smaller plants.

The fork method reduces damage on the roots so several new plants can be re-planted and spread around the garden, or even grown in pots.

2. Give shrubs a head start

The soil is warm, but the air cool so now is the time to get new shrubs and trees into the ground. The warm soil promotes new root growth and the cooler air means less stress on leaves, so your plants will establish well.
While you may not see much leaf growth straight away, the foundation is there so come next spring these plants will have a definite jump on the rest.

3. Feed your garden in advance

Your deciduous trees and shrubs, those that lose their leaves over winter, are now storing up energy for spring. It's best to fuel them with a slow release pelletised fertiliser as well as a fast acting liquid fertiliser.

For big trees soak the ground with a hose for an hour and then use around five watering cans of liquid fertiliser spread evenly on the ground below the tree canopy.

4. Put those Autumn leaves to work

Leaf mould is soil improver that can be used in conjunction with compost but is made solely of all the fallen autumnal leaves. Collect yours up and cram them into a black plastic bag as tightly as you can. Then fill the bag with water and put only one or two holes in the bottom.

Leave this behind your shed for six months and you will find a great soil conditioner has formed that can be added to your garden beds, used as a mulch around roses or added to compost to give it a boost.

5. Give your hedges a makeover

If you have a lot of hedges give them a cut back now and use the leaves in the leaf mould. They will more than likely have a fresh spurt of growth before winter, so don’t worry if you go a bit hard.

Mulching under hedges is also a good idea too as it will suppress any weeds that may just be germinating and that way you won't have to think about your hedges until early spring.

6. Show your lawn some love

If your lawn could do with a spruce up as well, start by giving it a stiff raking with a metal rake followed by a plastic grass rake to remove any thatch – this is the brown dead material clogging up the lawn.

Aerate by plunging a fork through it at 200mm intervals and then fertilise with a slow release fertiliser and water it in well.

7. Put some time into your tools

Now is the perfect time to give your tools a bit of maintenance as well, clean air and oil filters in petrol powered tools such as lawn mowers and sharpen blades on hedge shears and secateurs. Just before winter sets in it's also a good idea to remove any grime or dried sap from all your tools so they don’t corrode over winter.

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