1. Clean and clear
Clear away dying plants and compost anything that’s not diseased. Mow the lawn and trim overhanging branches. Gather empty or broken pots and recycle or reuse where you can.
2. Get busy with the secateurs
Now that you can see what you’re working with, have a thorough tidy up. “Autumn-blooming perennials and shrubs that have finished flowering can be trimmed back,” says horticulturist Angie Thomas. However, if you live in areas with cold winters, it’s best to hold back from heavy pruning to avoid damage from frosts.
3. Make compost for use in spring
Turn garden clippings and cuttings into compost. Alternate layers of leaves and clippings (cut into small pieces) with thin sprinklings of aged manure and organic fertiliser, and water lightly to dampen the heap. Click here for step-by-step instructions to a DIY sleeper compost bin, otherwise, install a compost bin.
4. Deal with weeds
Bare patches of dirt and spaces between pavers are magnets for weeds. “Look for a suitable weedkiller and carefully spot spray to quickly and easily get them under control” says Angie Thomas. If you’d rather pull them out, use a tool that removes the roots and all.
5. Look after your tools
Maintaining your tools will help them last longer. Remove dirt from digging tools, sharpen secateurs and loppers, and oil any metal parts to prevent rust. To help prolong the life of wooden handles, clean and protect them with linseed oil.
6. Improve your soil
"Feeding soil with organic matter, like compost or aged manure, keeps organisms well fed and promotes better soil structure and water-holding capacity,” says Robyn Stewart, public relations manager at Seasol. Dig organic matter into the soil and work in well, or if you prefer a no-dig option, use a liquid compost product.
7. Plan and plant
Autumn is a good time to move or plant evergreen shrubs and perennials. Check your garden for gaps, and choose plants that work well in your area; ask at your local garden centre if you are unsure. Water in well with seaweed solution to help reduce transplant shock and promote root growth.
8. Love your lawn
Toughen up your lawn for winter by feeding it. While it still may brown, it will bounce back quicker in spring. Try a slow-release lawn food that’s high in potassium to keep your lawn healthy and resilient against pests and environmental extremes.
Words Tammy Huynh
Photography Brigid Arnott, Stylist Rachel Peters