raking autumn leaves for winter ready garden

Ah! The days are slowly getting shorter, the breezes are getting brisker, and there is now a cold bite to the nights. Before the winds and rains of winter kick in, make the most of the good weather to finally cross out that to-do list you’ve been putting off for property maintenance. This includes making sure your property has a winter ready garden.

If your property has a garden or garden areas, they are probably the first thing people notice when they arrive. Having a beautiful garden can also contribute to keeping away the ‘winter blues‘ and helping you, your visitors, residents, or clients enjoy the outdoors in the cooler months. To keep your gardens vibrant and healthy all year round, follow our handy guide of 10 essential Autumn gardening tasks below for getting your garden ready for winter.

1. Gather Autumn leaves

The golden Autumn leaves may look beautiful strewn across your lawns and footpaths, but leaving them where they fall can kill the grass underneath. When the wind blows, many end up filling the gutters to ultimately end up in the storm-water drains.

Rake them up instead to compost. Don’t compost? Put the leaves in your garden beds as mulch. As the leaves break down, it provides rich nutrients to your plants and extremely beneficial to garden soil. It is also how to improve garden soil over the winter without any additional work.

2. Plant spring flowering bulbs

Now is the time to plant spring bulbs such as Freesia, hyacinth, daffodil, crocus, anemone, Babiana and tulips. Choose a spot with light, well-drained soil or plant in pots that can be moved out of sight after flowering. If you live in a warm climate, chill hyacinth and tulip bulbs in the crisper section of your fridge in a well-marked paper bag for about eight weeks before planting.

3. Watch out for mildew on roses

A well-established rose garden is a marvellous sight to behold. Protect your rose plants by watching for powdery mildew, which is rife in autumn and particularly when the weather stays warm.

Hose your roses down a couple of times a week to prevent it from attacking your plants. This will raise the humidity, which stops the powdery mildew spores from maturing. However, be sure to do this only in the morning because moisture on leaves overnight is what powdery mildew loves best.

At this time of year, roses also enjoy a sprinkle of potash around their drip line. Water it in well into the plants, particularly if the weather is dry.

4. Take hardwood cuttings

Take cuttings now from lavender, roses, box, Hebe, hydrangea and other woody shrubs to use to fill up the empty spots in your gardens when the weather begins to warm.

After cutting your plant, clear 3-4 cm from the cut end of your cutting of any leaves and dip it into rooting hormone before placing them into a sandy, well-drained soil mix. Keep it moist and wait for the cuttings to take root. Once new leaves start emerging from the cuttings, they will be ready to be planted into the ground in Spring.

5. Pot up Winter flowering annuals

For pretty flowers for your winter ready garden, simply remember the three Ps – pansies, primroses, and Polyanthus. These colourful blooms will keep your garden lively during the colder months. Mix up with cineraria and other annuals. Sow their seeds now in trays or punnets or look out for seedlings at the garden centre to make sure they are ready to bloom at  the right time.

6. Divide perennials

Dig up and divide large clumps of perennials such as dahlias, cannas, daylilies, DietesEuphorbia, foxgloves, Hosta, peonies and red-hot pokers. Use a sharp knife or spade to break up any clumps. Keep the outside bits for replanting, but throw the old central core away either into your compost or green waste bin. This will revitalise your plants over the colder months so that they will produce more flowers next season.

7. Give tired lawns a boost

Autumn rains and cooler weather means that it is a good time to sow new lawns and revitalise existing ones for a winter ready garden.

For ideal lawn sowing conditions, wait until the weather is cooler and we have had some Autumn rains. Before sowing seed, remove stones and difficult weeds such as dock and dandelion to ensure that your new lawn grows strongly and evenly.

8. Plant new trees

Autumn is the perfect time to plant new trees or shrubs.

If your soil is heavy clay, add compost, sheep pellets, or other organic matter to improve its structure and encourage worms in your soil.

Make sure your chosen planting spot isn’t on top of underground services such as sewerage drains or power cables. If unsure, call your service providers, who can supply plans for your section. As much as we want to have a winter ready garden, accidentally planting a tree on top of your NBN connection is definitely not what we want!

9. Mulch frost-tender plants

If your property is in a place with very cold winters, cover the ground with mulch to help protect your plants from frost during cold nights.

It may also be worth to lift frost-tender plants, such as cannas, out of the ground for storage. Dry them and other rhizomes in the sun and store them in the garage or shed over winter.

10. Allow plants to set seed

Some flowering perennials such as sedum, coneflower (Echinacea), and some types of grass have lovely seed heads. Think about leaving those you like on the plant to add interest to your winter ready garden. Any fallen seeds will also grow organically come spring time, giving you fresh new plants for your garden beds.

Similarly, many rose growers recommend leaving some flowers on rose plants to set hips (red/orange berries). Rose hips not only look attractive but help maintain vigour.

There is a harmony in Autumn and a lustre in its sky.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

At Star Property Maintenance, we know how important a well-kept and well-groomed garden is to the overall look, feel, and vibe of a property. Regardless of if your property is residential or commercial, everyone who walks past benefits from a beautiful garden. If you’re unsure of how to make your grounds a winter ready garden, contact us and we will help you get you and your garden ready for winter this autumn time.