Trees and shrubs

Shrub plantingPlanting and moving

If the weather is already autumnal, you can now plant and move shrubs and trees without having to worry excessively about their survival and establishment. Shrubs planted now will get off to a flying start next spring, as they will have had all winter to settle in.

Pruning and training

Give evergreen hedges a final trim to make sure they are in shape for winter. This is particularly useful for fast-growing hedges such as leylandii (x Cuprocyparis leylandii). Remember to cut hedges slightly narrower at the top than the bottom – this makes them less liable to snow damage in winter and stops the hedge from shading itself out at the base, which can lead to dead patches.


Take semi-ripe cuttings of evergreen shrubs such as CistusCeanothus and Viburnum.

Soaking a shrubGeneral maintenance

Thoroughly soak drought-stressed plants and shrubs, especially newly planted ones. As the weather becomes cooler and damper, the soil will better absorb and hold any extra water you give it.

Clear dead leaves promptly once they start to fall, as rotting leaves can be a source of disease in the garden. They are, however, useful on the compost heap and can be shredded first with a shredder or mulching mower, to help them break down quicker.

Planning ahead

Collect tree and shrub seeds for sowing next spring, such as Colutea (bladder senna), LaburnumMorus (mulberry) and Sorbus (rowan).

Order mature or large plants now for planting in October or once the rains have moistened the soil.

harmless saprophytic fungiPest and disease watch

Good garden hygiene helps to prevent disease, so it is vital to throw out or destroy diseased leaves. Do not compost them or leave them lying, as this could spread the disease.

Saprophytic fungi (i.e. living entirely on dead matter) pose no threat to living garden plants. Honey fungus may be more common in areas of woody planting, whereas harmless fungi often pop up in areas of damp lawn or on mulch.

Honey fungus fruiting bodies will begin to appear in late September and early October, indicating possible areas of infection. However, there are many harmless fungi that appear at this time, so don't be overly alarmed.

Powdery mildew can still be troublesome in warm, dry, Indian summer weather. Unless it is severe, it will probably clear up once the rains arrive.


Removing fallen leavesMaintenance

Cover the surface of ponds with netting to stop fallen leaves from entering. Accumulated debris in the pond can encourage growth of algae and weeds, which will eventually harm the fish by reducing available oxygen levels.

Top up water levels when necessary, particularly during warmer weather, and continue to remove blanket and duckweed.

Remove dead leaves from waterlilies as the foliage dies back. Now is also a good time to divide waterlilies and other pond plants to increase stocks or control over-vigorous growth.

Overgrown marginal plants can just be cut back, if further stocks are not required. A maximum of 50 percent of the water’s surface should be taken up with planting.


Waterlilies can be prone to fungal problems such as crown rot and leaf spot, so nip any problems in the bud by dealing with them promptly. Remove affected leaves, reduce watersplash from fountains and, if necessary, repot the whole plant in fresh compost after first removing all rotten looking bits of root, stem and leaf.

You may need to thin out submerged oxygenating plants, as they can quickly build up and crowd the pond.