Autumn can be a tricky time for British gardens. The rain starts falling, making it harder to get outside. The leaves cover your lawn. Those gorgeous summer flowers close up and lower temperatures mean an evening outside isn’t quite so appealing.
But don’t give up on your garden! Autumn is a beautiful season and there is a lot to enjoy even as the days get shorter. We want to help people fall in love with their home and garden even more, so we’ve put this article together to help you get the most out of the autumn and set your outdoor space up for the winter.
Autumn bedding plants
Choosing the right autumn bedding plants is a crucial step towards keeping your garden in top condition for October onwards. The ideas below will all work in your beds and borders and give you a fantastic choice of colours and different looks.
For vibrant colour throughout the winter, look no further than pansies. Preferring full sun but able to survive in semi-shade, almost every garden has a spot that’s perfect for pansies even when the days get shorter. Pansies flower in all manner of bright colours, so choose the perfect hues for your theme or mix and match for a colourful medley.
Violas are another bright, popular autumn flower. Upright varieties are good choices for your bedding, while trailing varieties can look perfect in hanging baskets. These tough plants don’t take up much space and produce multiple small flowers with beautiful mixes of colours and shades.
Cyclamen are gorgeous perennial plants with a more subtle, delicate look than pansies or violas. Shades of white and pink are common for the flowers, while the leaves are a lovely mottled green. They are ideal for patios and plant pots, and can also be grown indoors if you want to bring some of your outdoor joys inside.
An attractive herb can be an excellent addition to your autumn bedding. Purple sage is a great choice, characterised by the beautifully coloured leaves that give it its name. It grows in full sunlight or partial shade and is quite happy in moist bedding.
Small and bushy, heavenly bamboo looks great all year round with flowers, berries and colourful leaves. It’s perfect for a dramatic splash of colour in the autumn, as its berries are a dramatic red. As winter draws near, the leaves will also start to change colour to a deep purple.
What to do with garden furniture over autumn
While it’s easier than you might think to prepare your borders for the colder months, it can be tricky to know what to do with your furniture. The steps that you need to take to protect garden tables and chairs vary depending on the material, but all of them will benefit from a thorough clean first and foremost. Take advantage of a warm autumn day to wash your furniture and let it dry completely before you do anything else.
Iron, steel and rattan
Iron, steel or rattan garden furniture is best protected by moving it inside, if possible. If you don’t have the space in a garage or shed, covering the furniture should preserve it. If you’re covering iron or steel, make sure that it is completely dry, first. A bit of moisture inside the cover can cause a nightmare of rust come the spring. For rattan, the key objective is simply to keep it out of the sunlight.
Cast aluminium and plastic
Cast aluminium and plastic furniture is easier to manage. Aluminium is naturally weather resistant, though it will develop a protective outer layer if exposed for too long which will need to be cleaned before you can use it again. Plastic will need a thorough clean at the start of autumn – with bleach, if it’s white – and should be covered if possible to prevent deterioration in sunlight.
Wood furniture needs to be kept dry when it’s not being used. Cleaning is an important step, as this gets rid of moisture-retaining dirt, but you need to make sure that it stays in a dry spot throughout autumn and winter. Moving it inside is the safest bet. If you need to leave it outside, cover it and ensure it’s on a flat, well-drained surface. It should not be left on grass if at all possible. We suggest applying a finish or sealer for further protection if you’re concerned.
How to enjoy your garden throughout autumn
Just because winter is on the horizon, don’t be tempted to lock the back door and avoid the garden until spring. Whether you have a few square feet or a huge lawn, there is plenty that you can do to enjoy your space and let the fresh air beat the winter blues away.
Make the most of the jobs that need doing
Autumn jobs might not be the most glamorous, but they can be fun and help to keep you active. Clearing leaves, planting your winter flowers and cleaning up furniture are all activities that can get us outside. If you have children or grandchildren, why not get them involved? Turn these autumn garden jobs into an opportunity to move around and have a bit of fun at home.
Feed the birds
Autumn is a great time for British wildlife, but we need to do our bit to help our feathered friends out as food becomes harder to find and their energy levels need to be high for the cold weather. If you have bird feeders, keep them stocked with different kinds of food. If not, why not make this the year you buy one? Almost any garden can fit at least one feeder, possibly more.
It might take a bit of time for birds to get used to the food being there, but when they do find it there will never be a dull moment outside. You can sit out in the conservatory or by the window and enjoy watching the flashes of colour and life that birds bring.
Look for low-maintenance garden projects
Our section on autumn bedding plants shows that your garden doesn’t have to be dull at the end of the year. If bedding isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other low maintenance projects to which you could turn.
Hanging baskets and patio plant pots are low maintenance alternatives (or complements) to flower beds and borders. Start small and choose hardy, perennial plants that you like the look of. Once you’ve chosen, you just need to keep an eye on their water levels. Then you can sit back and enjoy the colour they bring.
Get ready for spring
There’s plenty to enjoy in autumn and winter for their own sake, but there’s no reason why you can’t get ready for spring. Autumn is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom into gorgeous flowers in a few months.
You could also start thinking about the changes you might want to make to your home to bring more of the life and colour of your garden inside. Autumn is the perfect time to think about beautiful new patio doors, efficient windows or even a conservatory – either installing something brand new or refurbishing your current space. If you like the sound of any of these, get in touch with KLG Rutland today.