Garden and grounds maintenance throughout the year.


The autumn chill sets in

Although we had some warmer days over September, the autumn is now definitely here for real, and it feels colder. It's a beautiful time of year, with the trees changing colour. Sometimes it may seem pointless raking, when the wind blows even more leaves onto the lawn, but just think of all the lovely leafmould you can make! It's also time to start preparing for early frosts.

Top 10 jobs this month


  1. Erysimum Rysi Gold 'Innrysigol'

Sowing and planting

  1. Plant wallflowers, forget-me-not, BellisPrimula, Viola (including winter pansies) and other spring bedding plants in prepared ground or pots.

    In mild areas, it is still possible to sow hardy annuals outside, to overwinter for a display next year.

    Continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs.

    Now is also good time to plant new herbaceous perennials, as the soil is still warm, but has more moisture than in the summer.

    Lily bulbs can be planted up in pots this month.

dividing crocosmiaCutting back, pruning and dividing

  1. Cut back faded herbaceous perennials and add to compost heap.

    Lift and divide poor flowering or overcrowded herbaceous plants.

Dahlia 'Chat noir'Maintenance

  1. Wait for the first frosts to hit dahlias and cannas before lifting the tubers or rhizomes. They may overwinter in the ground in warmer regions if covered with a protective layer of straw or bracken, but flowering may be late and/or poor next year.

    Lift tender bulbs if you live in a cold area; Galtonia and Tigridia bulbs, for example, need lifting and storing over the winter.

    Any remaining summer bedding plants struggling on in milder areas are best cleared and replaced, for a fresher display.

    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 with spring-flowering bulbs, winter heathers, trailing ivies and spring bedding plants.

containersGeneral maintenance

  1. Raise patio containers on to bricks or purpose-made pot feet to avoid them sitting in water during the winter.

    Move alpine troughs to a covered porch or lean-to to protect them from the rain - ask for help with lifting to avoid back injuries! Pick over alpines regularly, removing any autumn debris and covering died-back patches with extra grit to encourage their re-growth.

    Make sure you have finished bringing all tender plants into the heated greenhouse or conservatory for the winter.

    Wait for the first frosts to hit dahlias and cannas before lifting the tubers or rhizomes. In warmer regions, they may be all right left in the ground, but do cover the crowns with a protective layer of straw or bracken.

    Remove stakes and other supports as herbaceous plants die down for the winter.

    Check any bulbs being forced in darkness. If they show signs of top growth and have a healthy root system when knocked out of the bowl, bring them into a cool, light room to induce flowering.

Planning ahead

  1. Continue collecting and storing seed from perennials still forming seedheads.

leaf and bud eelworm on anenomePest and disease watch

  1. Check chrysanthemums regularly for signs of white rust and treat where necessary.

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

    Grey mould (Botrytis) can be problematic in wet weather. Remove affected leaves and other parts as soon as the symptoms are seen.

    Powdery mildew may still be a problems in dryer, warmer regions having a good 'Indian summer'. It is best to control this disease by cultural methods or by cutting back fading growth, rather than by spraying, which is less effective at this time of year.

    Avoid feeding plants late in the season, as this will encourage soft, sappy growth that is more vulnerable to damage by frost and by wet, and can encourage fungal diseases to develop.


pond plantsMaintenance

  1. Continue to place nets over small ponds to prevent autumn leaves falling in.

    Rescue tender water plants and remove any dying foliage. Place the plants in trays of deep mud or damp sand, or even in a bucket of water, keeping them in a frost-free place such as a conservatory or greenhouse, until the risk of frost has passed.

    If you did not tidy up the pond last month, then clear out any debris, weeds and excess oxygenating plants now. Leaving plants on the side of the pond for 38 hours before composting them, so that any wildlife has time to escape back to the pond.

    Remove pumps or fountains and removable lighting systems, clean them, and store over winter in a safe place.


  1. If there is any risk of frost or ice in your area, then do prepare yourself by preventing ponds from freezing over.

    Continue to lookout for waterlilies affected by fungal problems.