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Autumn is here and so are our October garden jobs

The clocks go back on the 31st of October this year, and we saw the autumn equinox earlier on in September. So, from now on our days will be getting shorter and shorter, so this month is the best time to make the most of the days before we notice the drastic jump in light in November. The changes in weather can also make it seem so much harder to get outside, but doing some of the work in our October garden jobs below will mean you are rewarded over the winter, and particularly in spring.

1. Cut back perennials that have died down

You may notice over this month, and into the rest of autumn, that many of your perennials will begin to die down once they have finished flowering, so in order to keep your garden looking tidy take a bit of time to cut back your perennials. It is important to note that some stems are great for providing homes and food to wildlife over the winter months, so if you do have some perennials that are still attractive, and show no signs of decay or fungal growth – keep them before cutting back in spring.

2. Add colour by planting up containers and pots of winter pansies and hellebores

We all want some colour in our gardens all year round, especially when the weather is a bit dreary and the nights are longer. Containers and pots are great options to plant over the coming months, as you can easily move them around your garden, and add colour right where you need it. We’d recommend Pansies, which come in a variety of bright and distinctive colours and also work great in beds and borders. Another favourite of ours are Hellebores, which are the perfect winter flowering plants as they are hardy yet still colourful – we love them so much here at Golden Valley Plants, that we have over 30 varieties available, so you are truly spoilt for choice with Hellebores.

3. Mow your lawn for the final time this year

Mowing often isn’t necessary over the winter, as most lawns stop growing due to the weather, but you will still want it to look tidy over the season. That means mowing it for the final time towards the end of October, but remember to rake any fallen leaves first, wait for a dry day, and raise your cutting blade to the highest point. By cutting your grass with a high blade you are not only ensuring your lawn stays tidy, but you are also giving the ground protection from frost and weeds.

4. Get planting whilst the soil is still warm but wet

Autumn is known by many as ‘natures time to plant’ as the soil is still warm from the summer months, but it is wet thanks to the increase in rainfall. These two things together make the perfect scenario for plants to establish well, so you will be rewarded with wonderful early displays next year – just remember to protect your plants from frost with fleece if needed. You may also notice that you have some gaps in your garden, so use this time to add some wonderful autumn colours and foliage to your garden!

5. Lift up any tender perennials to protect them for the winter

Unfortunately, not all plants are hardy and can survive our British winters. So, lift up any of your tender perennials this month and move them into a conservatory or heated greenhouse before the first frost. Once the weather is warmer you will be able to replant them in your garden.

6. Raise your patio containers to avoid them sitting in water

As we begin to see an increase in rainfall it is best to raise up any patio pots or containers you have so they are able to drain easily, to avoid them sitting in water. If plants become waterlogged, which happens due to a lack of drainage, the oxygen levels in the soil for the roots to access decrease, and the roots can rot which could kill your plant. Early signs can include yellowing leaves or wilting, but to be safe ensure your pots and containers can all drain easily.

7. Avoid feeding your plants from now on

Feeding your plants encourages new growth, and at this time of year there is no guarantee that this new growth will harden off before the frost arrives, so this new growth would be easily damaged or killed by the weather. If you do feel as though some of your plants need a final fertiliser, do it as soon as possible and research what fertiliser may be the best for that plant at the moment.

8. Wait for the first frost to pass before lifting your Dahlias and Canna tubers

Once your Cannas and Dahlias have had their foliage blackened by the first frost, they are ready to lift. Simply cut back the stems to around 2 inches from the base, and gently use a fork to take them out of the soil before removing any excess soil. With Cannas, store them in trays of sand or coir with the crown of the plant showing. You will then want to keep them moist in a cold, frost-free area. With Dahlias leave them upsidedown in a cool place to dry off for a few weeks, before burying them in trays of dry sand, soil, or compost, with the stalks exposed. These again should be kept in a cool yet frost-free environment.

9. Clean your greenhouse so as much light gets in as possible

Over the summer you may have used greenhouse shading paint on your greenhouse, or perhaps it has just got a bit dirty from the weather and from use. This month it is important to clean your greenhouse to get rid of anything on the glass that could be blocking the sunlight from getting in, as it is more important when we have fewer daylight hours to utilise all the light we do have for our gardens.