Autumn gardening tips
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Autumn is an important time of year for gardeners as they need to prepare their plants for winter while also preparing for spring. The soil is still warm enough for planting certain plants, sowing seeds and planting bulbs, but it won’t be long before non-hardy plants need to be sheltered and covered ready for the winter.
With this in mind, experts at The Grass People have shared their top November gardening jobs to do before winter.
Look after mower
The general rule for mowing lawns is if it’s still growing significantly then it can still be cut. However, it’s important to remember that if you’re still cutting the lawn, the blades need to be sharp.
The experts said: “Just as it isn’t a great idea to mow your grass extremely short in colder weather, it’s also not the best idea to mow it with blunt blades.
“If you’ve ever tried to shave your stubble with blunt blades – you’ll know all about it!
“Poor results, damaged grass and dare we say… a damaged ego when the lawn looks worse off than it did before you cut it! Sharpen those blades, save your grass… and save face!”
Install a water butt
Water butts have been a big topic of conversation this year after the UK experienced the hottest temperatures on record this summer.
The hot weather led to a hosepipe ban across large swathes of the UK with many plants and gardens drying out as a result.
The experts said: “As November is one of the wettest months, you should be installing and using a water butt so you can start collecting rainwater which can later be used in drier months.”
Look after garden wildlife
November is a vital month for wildlife with many species busily collecting as much food as they can ready for winter.
There are three main ways gardeners can look after wildlife in their gardens:
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1. Leave out food
Gardeners can lend a helping hand to a hedgehog or bird by providing some extra food for them.
Providing wild bird food such as seeds, suet balls, mealworms and berries is ideal for hungry birds, as they provide protein and energy.
Meanwhile, tinned dog/cat food is ideal for hungry little hedgehogs, and a mixture of nuts, seeds and vegetables will be a welcome sight and suitable for most small mammals.
2. Provide fresh water
The experts said: “All that hunting and gathering is thirsty work, so leaving fresh water out for weary travellers is a great help.
“This will keep puffed-out passers-by hydrated and send them on their way again. Water is also great for birds so that they can wash and clean their wings.
“You can provide fresh water in a shallow dish, to avoid any mini-animal accidents – just make sure the dish is no deeper than one inch.”
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3. Allow free passage
Small garden animals such as hedgehogs will travel up to one mile per night to get the best out of each garden they come across.
However, there are many obstacles in their way including the common garden fence.
To hedgehogs, gardeners can create a hedgehog “highway”. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society recommends creating a hole in your fence that is 13cm x 13cm, simply by sawing/drilling it out of the wood.
General November advice
Gardeners need to remember sowing season has now finished. In November, potential frosts can set in and temperatures can easily dip below 8C which can prevent seed germination.
As temperatures begin to drop below what is required for germination, grass will also begin growing very slowly and become dormant. This is when it’s “time to put away the mower”.
The experts added: “There is still time to apply a slow-release autumn/winter fertiliser (recommended) or a quick-release autumn/winter fertiliser to protect against frost and winter-borne diseases. Always ensure to spread at the recommended rate and water in.
“If frost should form on your lawn, avoid walking on it. This will help prevent compaction, frost scorch, disease and lasting footprints.”
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