Preparing the garden for Autumn from Charlie Albone
Autumn in Australia is a gardener’s dream, and my favourite season! As the heat of Summer is dying down plants feel less stifled so they start putting on some growth before Winter. It’s a great time to get into the garden and enjoy it before the cold slows everything down to a halt.
The soil is warm but the air cool so now is the time to get new shrubs and trees in the ground. The warm soil promotes new root growth and the cooler air means less stress on the leaves so your plants establish well. Improve the soil with Richgro compost to aid in moisture and nutrient retention and feed the plant at the same time by adding a handful of Richgro Blood and Bone to the back fill.
You may not see much leaf growth straightaway but come next spring these plants will have a definite jump on the rest.
Lift and divide perennials
For the same reasons as planting, now is a great time to lift and divide perennials. For those that have got congested, try to dig the whole plant out of the ground, keeping as big a root ball as possible. Use two forks back to back to prise the root ball apart into various smaller plants. The fork method reduces damage on the roots so several new plants can be re-planted and spread around the garden, or even grown on in pots.
Your deciduous trees and shrubs, are now storing up energy for spring, so fertilise with a rich all round fertiliser like Organics Complete Garden Plant Food as well as a fast acting liquid fertiliser too, such as Black Marvel. For big trees, soak the ground with a hose for at least half an hour and then use around five watering cans of liquid fertiliser spread evenly on the ground below the tree canopy. If you have a smaller tree such as a Magnolia you can use a spray on fertiliser such as Richgro Black Marvel for roses and flowers – this is great for all plants, gets absorbed by the leaves and the excess falls to the roots.
Make your own soil improver
Leaf mould is soil improver that can be used in conjunction with Richgro compost but is made solely of all the fallen autumnal leaves. Collect yours up and cram them in a black plastic bag as tightly as you can. Then fill the bag with water and put only one or two holes in the bottom. Leave this behind your shed for six months and you will find a great soil conditioner has formed that can be added to your garden beds, used as a mulch around roses or added to compost to give it a boost.
If you have a lot of hedges give them a cut back now and use the leaves in the leaf mould, apply the same principal to fertilising them too. They may have a fresh spurt of growth before winter so don’t worry if you go a bit hard.
Mulching under hedges with Richgro pine bark mulch is also a good idea as it will suppress any weeds that may just be germinating and that way you won’t have to think about your hedges until early spring.
Spruce up your lawn
The lawn could do with a spruce up as well, start by giving it a stiff raking with a metal rake followed by a plastic grass rake to remove any thatch – this is the brown dead material clogging up the lawn. Aerate by plunging a fork through it at 200mm intervals and then fertilise and water it in well.
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