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Backyard with flowers and planter boxes
Take your cue from cooler weather and tick off these seasonal tasks in and around the garden.

Autumn reset

The potential of autumn tones is a great reason to roll up the sleeves and give the garden a little attention. From lawn maintenance to mulching tips and plant care, here are some simple jobs to renew and improve your garden for autumn.

Tidy beds

Reinvigorate garden beds with a trim, thinning out and plumping up where needed. Once summer annuals start dying back, horticulturist and sustainability specialist Adam Woodhams recommends letting nature take its course.

“Rather than resuscitate true annuals, pull them out, add them to compost and tidy up perennials whose foliage dies back in the cool seasons,” he says.

Allocate space for new varieties you want to grow and thin out clumping plants. “At this time of year, you can divide the old-fashioned but reliable shasta daisy, keeping the young, vigorous plants from the outside of the clump.”

Create an edge

Plants and grass grow and spread over summer, so assert border control with an electric lawn edger and add a sleek finish like interlocking garden edging. As well as creating neat, well-shaped garden beds, edging will help keep mulch in place and create a barrier against running grass varieties.

Banish weeds

The best defence against weeds is to tackle them before they’ve set seed and spread. Horticulturist Angie Thomas at Yates advises using a hose-on selective herbicide to control common broad-leaf weeds like clover and Onehunga weed. “In garden beds, try spot-spraying with a weedkiller,” she says. “Once weeds are controlled, put down a bark chip or pea straw mulch to help reduce their growth.”

Plant up

Set aside garden space where you can reap the benefits of growing your own seasonal food, mixed with a splash of colour. Angie recommends planting vegies like broccoli, onions, garlic, cauliflower, leeks, Asian greens and peas. “To brighten up beds during autumn and winter, grow flowers like pansies, calendula, violas and dianthus,” she says

Love your lawn

To feed both the grass and the soil, Adam Woodhams recommends applying a quality slow-release fertiliser, watered in with a hose-on seaweed product. “If it’s been very dry, you can spread a soil wetter, too,” he says. “These come as powdered or hose-on products and are best applied before feeding, as they will improve water penetration.” Rather than a weekly mow, adjust your trimming schedule based on grass growth, which slows in cooler months.

Backyard with a trimmed lawn surrounded by trees, small bushes and other green plants

Make compost

Save money by creating your own source of rich organic matter using a compost tumbler, bin or pile. Add layers of food scraps, lawn clippings, prunings, leaves and shredded newspaper or cardboard, advises Angie Thomas. “Keep the ingredients moist and turn over regularly to ensure it’s well mixed and there’s air flow,” she says. “The compost pile should heat up, indicating the micro-organisms are hard at work.” Depending on the weather and ingredients, the compost should be ready for use in 6-8 weeks.

Cover up

As the temperature drops and the pool becomes less enticing, consider covering it during the cooler months. You’ll keep debris out of the water, minimise evaporation and help maintain the chemical levels – so there’s less to top up when swimming resumes. Give the cover a sweep or a blast from a leaf blower as required.

Put the pressure on

Decks, patios and outdoor furniture get a workout during the entertaining season, so blitz grime, spills and debris with a thorough clean. When using an electric water blaster, Candice Cooke at Kärcher suggests starting washing from a distance of around 30cm. “Then move the tip of the lance closer to the surface until you get a suitable result,” she says. “There’s a range of attachments to make cleaning hard-to-reach surfaces and stubborn dirt quick and easy.” Always start with a low pressure; for furniture, first test an inconspicuous area.

Clean gutters

Summer storms and a flourish of new growth can leave gutters filled with leaf litter and debris by the start of autumn. Arm yourself with a ladder, good work gloves and bucket, scoop out the contents and toss it onto the garden as mulch. While tending to the area, also trim any overhanging branches to reduce potential future gutter fill. Another solution that will also help protect your gutters is to install heavy-duty mesh, like Jack ‘Super’ gutter guard.

Get the best looking lawn on the street

Follow these lawn maintenance tips.

Photo Credit: Gap Photos/Robert Mabic, Natalie Hunfalvay

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.