Garden and grounds maintenance throughout the year.


Late summer progresses into autumn

September is generally a cooler, gustier month than August and the days are noticeably shorter. While there's not as much to do in the ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you'll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest. It's also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer's colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

Top 10 jobs this month


Lawn feederMowing

  1. Mow less frequently during autumn, and raise the height of cut as the growth rate of the grass slows down. This will help the lawn to withstand the last of the warm, dry weather, and also keep it resistant to treading as the wet weather arrives.


  1. You can harden your lawn up for winter by applying an autumn lawn feed, which is high in potassium. Do this after scarifying and aerating but before applying a top dressing. Do not give summer feeds that are high in nitrogen as this will only result in weak, soft growth, which will be prone to disease in the autumn weather.

Soil improvement

  1. Loam and sand top dressings are usually applied at a rate of 2kg per sq m (4.5lb per sq yd), working them into the lawn with a stiff brush or the back of a garden rake. If the proprietary product you use has specific application instructions, then do follow these closely.

New lawns

  1. This is an ideal time of year to create new lawns from turf or seed.


  1. Rectify summer damage by repairing a patchy lawn with turf or seed.

    Any brown patches caused by drought will quickly green up by themselves when the rain comes and the temperatures fall - usually towards the end of the month.

    Good autumn lawn care will do much towards solving patches caused by problems such as fungi (e.g. fairy rings), moss and weeds. These problems usually develop on lawns that are already weakened by poor conditions - waterlogging, drought and compaction, for example.


Lathyrus 'Noel Sutton'Sowing and planting

Sow sweet peas in a cold frame or the greenhouse for early summer blooms next year.

Sow other hardy annuals (e.g. ConsolidaCalendulaCentaurea, Limnanthes and poppies) in situ.

If you sowed any spring-flowering biennials such as ViolaDigitalis (foxglove) or Erysimum (wallflowers), earlier in the summer, they will now need planting out.

This is a good time of year to plant new perennials, especially towards the end of September, as the soil is still warm, but moisture levels are increasing.

Lobelia in a hanging basketCutting back, pruning and dividing

Don't neglect hanging basket maintenance - a little deadheading, watering and feeding can keep them going until mid-autumn. Once they are past their best, re-plant as winter/spring hanging baskets with spring-flowering bulbs, winter heathers, trailing ivies and spring-flowering plants.

Continue to deadhead plants such as dahlias, delphiniums, roses and penstemons to prolong the display and give colour well into the month.

Continue cutting back perennials that are fading and dying down.

Now is a good time to divide any overgrown or tired looking clumps of alpines and herbaceous perennials such as crocosmias. This will invigorate them, and improve flowering and overall shape, for next year.

Pelargonium cuttingsPropagation

Take cuttings of tender perennials, such as Pelargonium and Osteospermum. These plants often do better grown from new cuttings each year. If you do not have a greenhouse, then use a light windowsill to grow them on.

Continue collecting and storing seed from perennials still forming seedheads.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Helen Picton'General maintenance

Bring inside any tender perennials, such as fuchsias, gazanias, lantanas and abutilons, before frosts cause damage.

Some tall late-flowering perennials, such as asters, may still need staking to stop them being blown over in the wind.

Planning ahead

Spring-flowering bulbs are now available in plant centres, garden centres and online.

Powdery mildew on applePest and disease watch

Inspect chrysanthemums for signs of white rust.

Distortion on Phlox could indicate the presence of phlox eelworm.

Discoloured leaves on herbaceous plants, such as ChrysanthemumAnemone and Penstemon could be leaf and bud eelworm.

Powdery mildew can still be a problem in a dry and warm September.