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Garden Maintenance: OCTOBER

Autumn is a busy gardening season; winter and spring preparation starts now!

Top gardening jobs for October

1. Divide herbaceous perennials.
2. Net ponds to stop leaves falling in.
3. Give evergreen hedges a trim for the winter.
4. Take advantage of any dry days to paint fences, sheds etc with a preservative.
5. Clean patios and paths now to stop them becoming slippery in the Winter- a pressure wash and/or a chemical cleaner will do.
6. Replace any broken glass in the greenhouse and check for lost glazing clips or worn putty.
7. Clean your greenhouse before bringing in any tender plants for the winter. You will need a hose, a safe cleaning product (such as Citrox), and a scourer suitable for glass.
8. Check sheds for leaky roofs and fix them before the rainy season gets started!
9. Make/buy/repair compost bins so that they can be used for fallen leaves.

Top tip: Want some spring colour in your garden? Now is the time to plant spring flowering plants.

Lawn Care

Make your lawn a feature rather than a space filler!
- You might want to raise the cutting height. This will help stop your lawn getting muddy when the wet weather arrives.
- A little work now will help your lawn survive the winter and improve its condition for next year:
1. Scarify your lawn - this means raking up dead grass (or thatch) that builds up in your lawn to make space for new growth.
2. Aerate your lawn - this involves making lots of small holes. Light and air get into the holes encouraging the grass to grow and thicken up.
3. Harden up your lawn with a lawn feed high in potassium as this builds healthy roots.
- Top dressings of good quality soil or sand will improve the nutrients in the soil under your lawn and improve drainage. Work it in with a brush. Read suppliers instructions for application rates. A little each year will gradually improve your lawn. Doing this will help prevent water-logging, soil compaction and deter moss and weeds from growing.
- This month is your last chance to use a lawn weed killer. Many weed killers contain a hormone that stops the weed feeding - thus starving it. For this to be effective the weeds need to be in active growth.

Trees, Shrubs and Hedges

Trees and shrubs often give good value for money as they have colourful ornamental leaves and blossom but require little maintenance.
- Make semi-ripe cuttings of evergreen shrubs such as Ceanothus and Viburnum and hardwood cuttings of roses.
- Ensure that early-flowering shrubs, such as Camellia and Rhododendron, are well watered when the weather is dry as this will encourage healthy blooms in the spring.
- Use recycled or stored rainwater wherever possible. As the weather becomes cooler and damper, the soil will better absorb and hold any extra water you give it (so you won't need to water it so often).
- Climbing roses can be pruned once they have finished flowering; sideshoots can be cut back to a couple of buds. As usual cut out any dead or weak branches.
- Late-summer flowering shrubs such as Helianthemum (rock rose) can be pruned this month. As a general rule you can prune plants after they have flowered provided there is no frost expected.

Flowers

Have you ever seen a beautiful garden in full bloom and wished yours was as colourful? Plan now for colour next spring...
- Plant daffodils by mid-September and shop around to see what other bulbs are available for planting now for a display in spring.
- This is a good time of year to plant new perennials as there is still time for them to establish before the really cold weather starts.
- Bring any young tender perennials such as Fuchsia, Gazania, Lantana and Abutilon into the greenhouse to avoid frost damage.
- Keep deadheading, watering and feeding hanging baskets and they will keep going until mid-autumn.
- Deadheading plants like Dahlias, Delphinium and Penstemon will prolong your display.
- Now is a good time to take cuttings of tender perennials as these often do better next year than the old plant you took the cutting from.
- Divide overgrown or tired looking clumps of alpines and herbaceous perennials such as crocosmias. This will encourage new growth next year and improve their overall appearance.

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