Autumn gardening: 9 top tips on keeping your garden in top condition

Autumn gardening is all about maintenance and planning; find out what areas to concentrate on as a priority

autumn gardening
(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

Autumn gardening brings with its own challenges and pleasures. As nights draw in and temperatures plummet, you may be spending less time outdoors, but doing some maintenance now will mean a healthy and thriving garden next spring.

Autumn is actually a very important time for gardening, a transitional period that's about more than just tidying up. 

Follow these tips to keep your outdoor space looking good throughout the autumn and winter months. Then head to our dedicated garden ideas page to explore more gardening inspiration. 

1. Clear away furniture

If you’ve been entertaining guests in summer, now is the time to cover or store away garden furniture to prevent damage caused by weather. Bring any cooking equipment such as barbecues and utensils inside, and wrap chimineas with waterproof covers. 

Make sure you give the garden furniture a good clean and revive metal furniture before you store it away.

2. Clean patios and decking

Sweep and clean walkways, patios, decking and driveways regularly If your garden is open and surrounded by trees, sweeping regularly is a must. Falling leaves and wet weather conditions can cause dangerous slippery surface and if left can start to rot. 

Use a hard wearing outdoor brush to sweep away leaves and bag up for compost. A pressure washer  and patio cleaner can be used on decking or patios to remove any dirt build up, mildew or algae.

autumnal leaves

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

3. Look after outbuildings

Greenhouses, garden rooms and sheds can all be susceptible to the winter weather. Keep glass on greenhouses clean throughout winter to make cleaning up in spring easier, as dirt can build up over months and become difficult to remove. Treat any wooden outbuildings with a weather protection wood preserver to prevent colour fading or damage to the wood.

Clear out and organise the inside of sheds and greenhouses ready for winter storage, which will also make it easier for you to find everything when your start gardening in earnest again in spring.

Garden chair in autumn garden

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

4. Cut back hedges and foliage

Use a good pair of secateurs or hedge trimmers to trim thick stems right back and remove any dead branches and leaves. This will make maintenance in spring easier, prevent overgrowing and overcrowding, and reduce dropping leaves.

5. Take care of the lawn

In a dry winter, grass will still need plenty of water. If you spot brown patches on your lawn, ensure it is watered regularly. 

Give your lawn a good cut before the cold and wet weather sets in and trim back the edges to make maintenance in spring easier. Keep weeds down by regularly checking for them, and clear away fallen leaves from the lawn too, to prevent rot.

See our pick of the best lawnmowers if yours needs replacing.

plant pot in an autumn garden

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

6. Protect pots and plants

Store any empty and planted up pots carefully over the winter months. Raise any planted containers off the ground to prevent them getting waterlogged, and insulate the pots with hay, cardboard or bubble wrap.

If you have any plants you know are susceptible to cold weather, get them in the greenhouse or in your conservatory. For those planted in the garden, protect them with fleece or hessian. The first frost of the year can arrive without any warning and kill your favourite foliage. 

Get more tips on container gardening for small spaces.

7. Plant spring bulbs

To enjoy colourful daffodils, tulips and other spring blooms appearing in your garden next spring, remember to plant the bulbs from September to November.

8. Don't forget wildlife

Don’t forget about any wildlife that visits your garden. Make sure you leave out seeds, nuts and water for the birds - this can be life-saving during the winter when food is scarce and the cold can take its toll. 

Create bug homes, and leave out suitable leftovers for other wildlife you want to encourage to share your outdoor space. Shelter is essential for a hedgehog’s survival during the winter, and you can make a hedgehog home from woodpiles - choose a quiet spot that is unlikely to be disturbed from November to March. 

Find out more about creating your own wildlife garden.

autumnal tree colour

(Image credit: Leigh Clapp)

9. Mulch your borders

As temperatures drop and the weather gets wetter, your plants become more vulnerable to waterlogging, root rot, and, if they're sufficiently weakened, pest larvae. Mulch around the roots of your plants with wood chip, leaves, or pine needles. 

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