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Autumn Garden Care

Posted in Garden Advice on May 15, 2019

In autumn it is time to prepare your garden for winter. 

Here are some tips for autumn/winter garden care:

Clear up Leaves

If the leaves collect on lawns, they can 'smother' lawn grasses; shading and squashing grass and encouraging damp conditions under the leaves where the disease may flourish. So, rake up those leaves regularly. Or you could blow them off or vacuum them up and use them in your compost.

Let the Lawn Grow Longer

Raise your mower height when mowing in autumn and winter. The deeper grass gives more protection to grass roots. See Autumn Lawn Care

Improve Drainage

Winter is the wettest time of year in many parts of New Zealand. So, get out and improve the drainage in damp parts of the lawn or flowerbeds where water puddles. Fork the soil or install drainage systems.

Move Tender Plants Indoors or Sheltered Areas

Tender plants that can be moved should be moved to sheltered areas or potted and moved indoors.

Remove Weeds

It is the nature of many weeds that mean they can survive harsh winter conditions and thrive again early in spring. Get rid of weeds now and you will save yourself a lot more effort in spring.

Remove Annuals

Annual plants will die in winter and will not re-grow. They should be removed so as not to provide harbourage for pests and diseases that would infest and infect your annuals next year.

Dig in Organic Material/Compost

Autumn is a great time to dig in organic material. The complex molecules in composts and other organic material will breakdown slowly in the soil releasing the simpler molecules that will improve the soil and can be absorbed by plants ready for spring growth.

Replenish or Add Mulch

Weed suppressant and moisture retention mulches such as chip bark should be replenished to ensure the thickness of the mulch layer remains at the depth of ~10 cm. This layer will also protect plant roots from frosts. However, do not pile mulches up against plant stems, leave a gap at the base of stems and trunks.

Feed the Birds

Don’t forget to help the native bird population survive the winter. Many of our native birds eat nectar, fruit, and insects. So, set up a feeding station of fruit and nectar (sugar water). See here for more details.

Add Lime

Autumn/Winter is a good time to add lime to lawns and soils. Lime works slowly to raise the pH of soils and so the pH will have been adjusted by springtime.

Keep Your Compost Warm

In the cool winter conditions, the compost pile my cool and the breakdown processes will slow and may even halt. There are some things you can do to help keep your compost cosy this winter so that it continues to break down organic waste. See How to Keep Your Compost Cosy This Winter.

Winter Spray Programme

Winter is a good time to get into the garden and protect your trees, shrubs and roses from pests and diseases. It may look like nothing is happening in the garden but lurking among the leaf litter, bark and dead twigs are the spores of diseases and the eggs of pests. See the Kiwicare Winter Spray Programme.

Clean and Sharpen Tools

Autumn/winter is a good time to clean and sharpen tools that are going to be sitting in the garden shed over winter. You don’t want to harbour pests and diseases on the implements through the winter to infests and infect your garden in spring. Wash the implements, sharpen any that should be sharp and then sterilise with methylated spirits or dilute bleach, dry and put away in a dry place.

Protect from Frosts

Winter frost can do considerable damage in gardens. Protect any non-movable plants with frost covers. Protect non-frost resistant pots with a protective wrap such as bubble wrap.

Prune Roses and Perennials

Many roses and perennial shrubs and ornamentals should be pruned to encourage vigorous new growth in spring. For more details:
See How to Prune Roses
See Fruit Tree Care
See Care of Shrubs
See Pruning Time of Year

Once your garden is prepared for winter you can hunker down and look forward to flush of spring.

David Brittain

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