01 Sep Gardening Jobs To Do in September
Summer’s glut is tailing off, and summer flowers are going to seed. While it’s not quite autumnal weather every day yet, the cooler nights and occasional gusty winds can make trouble for fragile plants. Make the most of the last of the sun and increase your vitamin D intake by preparing your garden for autumn.
What to do in the Garden in September?
The start of autumn is time for a little maintenance. We want to extend the flowering and fruiting of our plants as long as we can, help our parched and patchy lawns recover from the long August heat, and get our perennials, shrubs and trees back in line after months of wild growing. There are also pests and diseases to watch out for as the damp weather comes in, and jobs to do in preparation for next spring. This article divides jobs into four areas: Lawn, Flowers, Fruit & Veg and Maintenance, so you can find the most relevant jobs for your garden.
How can I keep gardening into Autumn?
As the days grow noticeably shorter and school term-time resumes, it’s easy to fill the daylight and lose momentum in our gardening. The evenings are gloomier, and after a long day at work we can struggle to find the motivation. Get out for a few minutes each morning to get smaller jobs out of the way and save bigger jobs for weekends. Remind yourself how good gardening is for your mental and physical well being and try to connect with nature in some way every day.
Revitalise your Lawn after Summer
Hot, dry weather, together with lawn chairs, paddling pools and endless summer football matches, can leave our lawns looking worn out come September. Luckily, grass is a hardy plant and used to stress, and it will bounce back with just a small amount of care.
This is the time of year when grass growth slows, so adjust your lawnmower to raise the height of the cutting blades and mow less frequently as we progress into Autumn. Longer, less stressed grass is better able to survive any September heatwaves, and is less likely to tread down or churn into mud once the rain is falling steadily.
An extra boost can come from aerating your lawn. You can aerate your lawn to give both grass and soil a chance to breathe deeply, encouraging new root growth and improving drainage. Make small holes in your lawn, a few inches apart, using a garden fork, a spiked roller or aerator. Some even invest in some spiked soles that strap onto wellies, and stamp about in the grass!
Apply a potassium-rich autumn lawn feed. You can buy these in most garden centres, or make your own using fruit-waste such as banana peels or hardwood ash (the original source of potash). You can spread ash on your lawn as it is, or sink a mesh bag of fruit-waste in a lidded bucket of water for a few weeks. Lift the bag out and water your lawn with your DIY fertiliser.
September is an ideal time to create areas of new lawn, either with cut turf or growing from seed. The cooler weather and increased rainfall increases the chances of turf taking root.
Plan for Spring and Sow New Flowers
September is a great time to plan colourful floral displays to look forward to in spring and early summer. Sowing in autumn gives seeds ample time to root, producing bigger flowers next year. Some seedlings will require a cold frame, propagator or greenhouse to survive the winter, though a sunny window-sill will do.
Sow sweet peas, hollyhocks and lupins in a greenhouse or cold frame to plant out in March for blooms in spring and early summer.
You can sow other hardy annuals such as forget-me-nots, wallflowers, calendula, delphiniums, cornflowers and poppies in beds where they are to grow. Scatter them randomly for surprises next year or arrange in rows for a neater look.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, while the soil is still warm and the roots can really get going. Dig a hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the bulb and layer a little grit or sand at the bottom. Push and twist the bulb’s roots (like a lightbulb) into the hole and cover with soil. Don’t forget to label where you put them!
You can fill any gaps in your beds with late-flowering plants, such as sedums, salvias and asters, to provide a rich source of nectar for our friends, the pollinators.
Growing Fruit and Veg in September
If you, like so many, have taken to growing your own fruit and vegetables, the end of summer’s bounty can be disheartening. However, there is still plenty to do to ensure your garden keeps producing beautiful vegetables into autumn and for years to come.
Remove lower, dying leaves of tomatoes and squashes to avoid fungi travelling to the fruit. Help fruits ripen by getting rid of any shading leaves.
If your tomatoes are still green, you can bring plants indoors to ripen before the weather turns cold, or make delicious green tomato chutney!
Pot up herbs such as chives and parsley to bring indoors for use in winter dishes.
Pot strawberry clones. Lift the runners your plants have put out, and any soil they’ve claimed, into pots. These make fantastic gifts for friends keen to join the grow-your-own movement.
Sow hardy greens such as kale, lamb’s lettuce and mustard for a steady supply of fresh greens during winter months. You can also sow hardy peas and broad beans under glass for early crops in February and March.
Plant onion and shallot sets for larger yields next summer. Choose a sunny spot and place the bulbs into soil 10cm apart with the tips showing.
Collect seeds from chard, beetroot and spinach beet. Leave a few carrots in the ground to go to seed, and allow beans and peas to over ripen before drying and storing the seeds for next spring.
Now is the time to pick and store apples and pears. Eat them fresh, cook into pies and tarts, or store them for winter. To keep fruit fresh, lay them separately in crates or trays lined with newspaper sheets and store in a cool dry place such as a shed.
Autumn Garden Maintenance
The beginning of the leaf fall is not, as many would consider it, the ‘end of the gardening year’. In forest ground, rotting leaves provide valuable nutrients for trees and undergrowth to store and increase growth in the spring. You can harness the nutritional power of leaves and tidy your autumnal garden by collecting and storing leaves to make leaf mould to use as a mulch or compost mix later.
Check supports on weaker plants such as new trees or shrubs to ensure they are protected during windier weather.
Keep deadheading flowering plants such as roses, marigolds, dahlias and delphiniums to encourage continued displays of colour.
If your perennials are fading, cut them back a few inches. Even at this late stage in the year, this will encourage new growth.
Now is a great time to trim conifers and evergreen hedges to neaten them up and control their height. Trimming box hedges can help prevent fungal diseases.
Remove and destroy any leaves with black spots or brown rust, as these indicate diseases that can affect most garden plants. Avoid adding these to compost, as the disease can survive the composting process and recur the following year.
Winding Down for Winter
The joys of gardening are felt by so many throughout summer. Putting in work to create an enjoyable and even productive space to spend those sunny days is both satisfying and revitalising, and those health benefits can continue all year round. Like the trees, your garden needs to rest and conserve energy during winter, but under the surface, bacteria and fungi are hard at work decomposing your leaves and compost heap. By fertilising, trimming and harvesting seeds, you are reducing your workload in Spring and preparing your garden for the cold weather. These jobs should help you prepare for the Spring, a reminder that winter is not the end, but a hiatus.
If, like so many, you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), in which the darkening days of autumn and winter cause low moods and even depression, carrying on in the garden can be a source of solace. Gardening throughout autumn helps restore your supply of vitamin D, strengthening your immune system and your circadian rhythms. It can also provide reassurance of the continuation of the beauty and bounty you have cultivated. Enjoy tracking the slow cycles of your garden and ground yourself in nature’s recurrence for years to come.