1. Lift and store non-hardy plants
Make sure all non-hardy plants, such as Dahlias are lifted and stored over winter in a dark, dry, frost free cold environment like a garage or a shed.
2. Protect Olives and Vines
Plants such as olives and vines need frosts to set the fruit for next year but will die at temperatures lower than -5 degrees centigrade. These plants can be left outside but need light protection such as horticultural fleece. Bringing them into an unheated greenhouse is ideal.
3. Plant bulbs, shrubs and trees now for spring/summer
Bulb planting is best done in autumn for spring and summer displays.
The bare root season is about to start, so shrub and tree planting will be more cost effective and will yield better results when done at this time of year.
4. Harvest fruit and veg before the first frost.
Harvest all your fruit and veg before the first frost.
5. Feed the roots, not the plant.
At this time of year, the foliage on plants stops growing, but the roots carry on. So, be sure to feed new planting with ‘root food’. Bonemeal is the best feed for autumn. Try to avoid feeding plants with multipurpose plant food, as you’ll encourage new leaf growth that’s susceptible to winter frosts.
6. Use mulch for protection
Mulching in autumn is a great way to protect new planting from surface root damage from winter frosts. Bark chips, leaves, compost, hay or even manure are the best mulches you can use.
7. Mow your lawn
Change the settings to a notch higher than summer months to help protect your lawn from frosts. Keep mowing once per month until November. You can even do a ‘tidy up’ mow in winter if there’s no lying snow.
8. Plant out winter bedding in beds, baskets and pots
Primulas, Early Wallflowers, Cyclamen, Bellis and even Ivy are great winter bedding plants. You can also use plants with winter berries such as Gaultheria or winter stems such as Dogwoods.
9. Dig over new beds
Dig over new beds, adding lots of compost. Follow in the tracks of farmers and turn over your new growing areas in autumn. You don’t get as many new weeds till the spring and the frosts will further break up your soil nicely for winter, creating a fine tilth.
10. Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs
Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs and let them root in a warm place over winter. Make sure you use this year’s growth for cuttings as that is the most viable material.