I love my garden and just like this red squirrel I think it is the perfect place to chill out. Your garden is probably in full swing at the moment - and now in the middle of September is a very good time to have a bit of a ponder and assess your efforts whilst there is still shape and form there to look at. It is very easy to forget what it all looks like by next February!
Make a plan – take photos
You really do forget how big things grow so taking a few photos is a good idea. After a number of seasons you can see how the garden changes of its own accord - the path that was in the sun might now be in the shade and overhung by too much vegetation. Look around and make a plan of action -
- In terms of shrubs and trees – what is too big and needs pruning or thinning out?
- What perennials need attention or could be divided to make a better impact.
- Do you like how it all looks –autumn is a good time to start planning and marking out any changes you wish to make. You could create a new feature – pond, walkway, path, wildflower meadow etc.
- Is the garden still fulfilling your needs? You might want to grow more - or less - veg or perhaps reduced the amount of lawn area.
- Do you need a soil test?
- Don’t rush to tidy up –all that vegetation provides valuable insect and bird habitat. Always best to do any major work in stages, giving wildlife a chance to adapt to what you have done.
- Mid-September really is the last call for Green Manures. Never, ever leave soil uncovered (would you like to be out there with nothing on in the middle of November? - exactly - cover up!).
You can also cover the soil with ground cover, seaweed or even fallen leaves.
- Prepare any areas where you might be moving perennial shrubs or veg next year – ie. rhubarb or strawberries, wildflower meadow, new grass areas. If planting a hedge or tree later now is a good time to start preparing the ground.
- September is a good time to scarify the lawn. Getting rid of all that old moss and thatch will allow a lot more light and air in.
- Start collecting for leaf mould. A nice shady spot is good for this. Leaf mould contains very few plant foods, but can be used to improve structure. It can also help to release plant foods in heavy soils and to hold onto those present in
light soils, improving soil structure without adding fertility.
- Cover your pond with a net to stop the autumn leaves blowing in.
- Make a start on the bulb planting for early colour next spring. Don't forget to mark where they are!
- Start preparing the ground for overwintering onions and garlic.