Summer’s on its way out (seriously where did that go?) and we’re starting to think about shorter days outside and longer nights indoors, but that doesn’t mean work stops in the garden. September is a great time to give it a tidy up, especially after how much overtime it’s likely been doing this summer, with us all spending more time in our gardens than ever.
So dig out your gloves and get ready to tidy up the borders, rake the lawn and cover the furniture and BBQ for winter – don’t worry we’re sure there’ll be a few more days you can get use out of it this year first!
When it comes to the fruit and veg garden, things are quieter now than in the height of summer – but there are still plenty of crops to harvest and new things to plant. Read on to find out what you should be getting your green fingers on this month…
It’s fair to say that this summer has been very mixed weather wise, so lawns up and down the country are likely to be in various states of repair. If you’re lawn is looking a little parched, getting it back to green may seem like an impossible task.
However, September is the best month to get the lawn back into shape ready for next year and to prepare it for the rigours of the winter weather. Good autumn lawn care will help prepare patches caused by problems such as diseases, moss and weeds. These problems usually develop on lawns that are already weakened by poor conditions such as waterlogging or drought.
Start by raking the lawn thoroughly (scarifying) with a spring-tined rake to remove all the accumulated dead grass, moss and other debris.
If needed, aerate the lawn using a fork, then fill in the holes with a lawn top dressing and work it in with a stiff brush or back of a garden rake. Once this is done, apply a granular autumn lawn fertiliser. This’ll thicken and harden up your grass ready for winter. If weeds and moss are a problem, treat these too. Now’s also a great time if you have lots of gaps or patchy growth to re-seed with a suitable lawn seed mix – look for seed specially tailored to your needs e.g. for shady areas or high-traffic lawns where you have pets or kids running around a lot on it.
If you’re lawn has suffered from hot, dry conditions, check out our tips on how to care for your lawn after a dry summer.
When your summer bedding starts to look a bit scrappy, think about cutting back and replacing with winter-flowering pansies, polyanthus and primulas, wallflowers, sweet William and bellis daisies for an extra show of colour that will brighten up even the dullest of days.
Plant now to give the plants time to establish. When winter hits us, the bigger the plants are the better they’ll perform. If you don’t have space to plant them directly into the ground yet, pot them up and plant out as soon as you can.
Sow hardy annuals (such as calendula, centaurea, limnanthes and poppies) where you want them to flower in the garden now. If you’ve got heavy clay soil, you may get better results by sowing under cover in containers/trays and planting when they’re large enough to handle.
Containers and patio plants
Don’t neglect your summer hanging basket and containers – deadheading, correct watering and good feeding now can keep them going until the first severe frosts of autumn.
Once summer patio displays are past their best, replant with spring-flowering bulbs, winter heathers, dwarf evergreen shrubs and conifers, trailing ivies and spring-flowering bedding plants.
Trees, shrubs, roses and climbers
Autumn is the best time to plant just about any hardy shrub – including roses, climbers and hedges. The soil will still be warm, meaning the roots will establish quickly. Shrubs that are borderline hardy are best left until spring, though. Make sure the soil is well prepared with plenty of added organic matter – such as well-rotted manure, compost, composted bark or tree planting compost.
Climbing roses can be pruned once they have finished flowering; sideshoots from the main framework of branches can be cut back to a couple of buds.
Late-summer flowering shrubs, such as helianthemum (rock rose), can also be lightly pruned or trimmed back in September. Shrubs normally pruned hard in the spring – such as buddleia and lavatera – can be cut back by up to half now, to prevent wind rock and neaten their appearance.
Give evergreen hedges a final trim early on in September to make sure they’re in top shape for winter.
Top tip: Make sure secateurs and garden shears are sharp and clean before use to stop any potential nasty diseases spreading.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs
For months of colour from winter to late spring, you can’t beat the value of spring-flowering bulbs. There are so many to choose from and they come in all the colours of the rainbow. What’s more, having so many types to choose from means you’re sure to find the perfect partner whether you’re looking to get growing in full sun or shade, beds or borders, containers or even hanging baskets!
As well as the standard favourites – daffodils, tulips, crocuses, snowdrops and hyacinths – why not choose something a bit different this year to add into the mix as well? We love Muscari (grape hyacinths), Chion
odoxa (glory of the snow), Cyclamen, Scilla and Ipheion.
Planting now will reap rich rewards next year. Always buy top-quality bulbs as these come with their flower buds ready and waiting inside and are guaranteed to flower in their first year.
Spring-flowering bulbs also tend to more-or-less look after themselves as long as they’ve been planted properly, so they’re great for people who don’t have much time to spend looking after their outdoor space.
Our best advice is to plant them deeply. The correct planting depth will be displayed on the pack when you buy them, but as a general rule of thumb plant bulbs so they have twice their height of soil above them; some will do better when planted even deeper.
- Aerate the lawn and brush in sand
- Sow lawn seed and fertilise with autumn feed
- Tackle moss
Fruit and veg
- Protect autumn fruit from birds
- Continue to harvest veg as it comes
- Start tidying herb gardens
- Sow parsley seed
- Continue to sow quick-growing leafy salads like rocket
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs
- Sow hardy annual seeds where you want them
- Give evergreen hedges a final trim
- Keep deadheading summer hanging baskets
- Plant out hardy shrubs
- Prepare Christmas flowering bulbs
- Clean out the guttering
- Install water butts
We’ve got everything you need to keep your garden in tip-top condition throughout the autumn and winter and into next spring. Pop into your nearest store, or visit our garden department online at wilko.com