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shape. Doing the work in September allows the grass time to respond before winter. September is also a good time for new lawns to be sown or laid.

Autumnal colours

AUTUMN Autumn gives us that final burst of fruit and colour before winter sets in and we brace ourselves for the frosts. A beautiful season filled with many jewelled delights, from blackberry picking, pumpkin and butternut squash harvesting, rose-hips and berry filled cotoneaster and beauty berry, Callicarpa bodinieri

In September if your lawn has suffered

drought, rake very lightly to remove debris. With a garden fork aerate the lawn by spiking the fork into the lawn to a depth of at least 10cm. Before it rains, apply a good autumn lawn fertiliser, high in phosphorous and potassium and low in nitrogen to encourage strong rooting. If it has rained, you can seed any bare patches using an appropriate lawn-seed mixture.

Beauty berry

var. giraldii 'Profusion' with its amazing purple berries. Trees wear their autumnal coloured jackets before throwing them off to the wind and that feeling of contentment as nature sits back and has a well deserved rest and we sit back and ponder over the year’s successes. A great time of year to review the garden and really think about what worked well and not so and plan possible moves around the garden.

General garden tasks Lawn care Autumn lawn maintenance is to: scarify, aerate, feed, topdress and over-seed. If your lawn was hit by summer droughts, then autumn is the time to get it back into

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To remove thatch from a lawn, which is a build up of moss and dead stems at the base of the turf, you will need to scarify the area. To do it by hand, use a spring- tine rake or use a powered scarifier on larger lawns. The thatch will stop the absorption of water and fertilisers so it is a good habit to remove the thatch.

To topdress a lawn, you will need a simple mix of: 3 parts sandy loam, 6 parts sharp sand and 1 part compost or leafmould and apply it at 2-3kg per sqm. Sprinkle the mixture onto the lawn and work it in using a flexible rake.

Take advantage of the autumnal volume of fallen leaves and make a nutritious leafmould:

• Take a black bin liner and punch a few holes in the side and bottom.

• Rake up leaves weekly and place in the bin bag. Oak, alder and hornbeam will rot down quickly, while sycamore, beech, horse chestnut and sweet

chestnut take a little longer. Leaves from conifers and evergreen plants will take between two and three years to compost and are best added in small quantities only, shredding them first will help speed up composting.

• When almost full, sprinkle with water, shake and tie.

• Store in a shady spot and the following autumn the leaves will have rotted down into a rich, crumbly mixture that can be used as a mulch around the base of plants.

Protect/treat wooden furniture, sheds, fences and gates.

Spring bulb shopping Bulbs look great naturalised into any garden setting or if you only have a window box or outdoor tub, plant it up with bulbs ready to burst into the fresh colours of spring.

When choosing bulbs, gently squeeze the bulb between your thumb and finger. The bulb should be firm when pressed. Softness is a sign of rot, so avoid these and if you're hand-picking them from a large crate go for the biggest of the bunch, in this case, bigger is better. Try and buy the bulbs as soon as they hit the garden centres so you get the best and largest choice and then just store in a cool, dry place until they are needed for planting.

Daffodils can be planted in late August/early September Crocus – October Tulips – November

The general rule of planting bulbs is to plant to a depth of 3 times the bulbs own height. Plant the bulbs in good fertile soil and then feed with a general fertiliser in early spring.

Pruning Early autumn, give hedges and topiary their final trim of the season. Climbing and bush roses can be cut back during October as well as late summer-flowering shrubs.

Seeds Autumn is a perfect time to harvest seeds from perennial plants.

Evergreens Water newly planted evergreens during dry spells, especially during windy weather when they are prone to drying out.

Frost/wind protection Biting winter winds will damage new planting schemes so protect young plants towards the end of autumn in exposed sites with temporary netting windbreaks. Tender plants can be protected with a bark mulch, horticultural fleece or fleece over straw packed branches. It is also a good idea to wrap insulation around any exposed outside taps to prevent burst pipes

Ponds and water features Thin out submerged oxygenating plants if necessary. Remove yellowing leaves from water lilies as they die back and cut back overgrown marginals. If you've been controlling algea with barley straw you can now remove and place it on the compost heap.

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