Autumn Timber Care & Gardening Tips from Forest

Autumn is the perfect time to start preparing your garden for winter, before the cold weather and frost sets in. Tidying the bedding, ensuring everything is clear and laying down the right groundwork now, will help your garden reach its full springtime potential.

Here, Forest has devised some top tips to help you beat the havoc caused by our increasingly severe winter weather.

Timber Care

  • Check the condition of all your garden fences, posts, structures and stores, securing any loose joints and replacing weakened or broken items. Sand off any old, flaking stain or dirt from dry surfaces and apply an annual coat of good quality wood preservative.

  • Autumn is a good time to work on your fence. Any flowers and leafy plants in borders alongside the fence will have died back, so walking on the area will not damage them too much. However, maintenance on any trellis with climbing plants should be carried out in early spring before the plants start to grow again.

  • Decking will benefit from a good clean and an application of preservative or stain, decking oil and decking protector, to help prevent moisture damage and mould growth.

  • If roofing felt has been torn or damaged on garden buildings, replace and ensure it is fully secure. Give all glazing, oil hinges and window fixings a good clean. If metalwork shows signs of rust, clean and apply Hammerite Paint. Check all fixings are tight and then your building will be ready to withstand the winter weather to come.

Storage Tips

  • When there is no more need for garden furniture, store it in the shed or garage to protect it from the winter weather and allow it to dry out.

  • Be frugal and save seeds in a cool, dry, frost-free place, such as a tin box in the shed. These can then be sown in the spring.

  • Remember to check that your tools are in good working order and store them away for when you next need them.

  • Dig and store summer tubers and bulbs, which can then be planted again in spring.

Composting Tips

  • Winter gives cuttings and leaves a chance to break down and produce nutrient-rich compost, which will be ready for boosting the garden in the New Year. Now is also a really good time to turn your compost heap. It will heat up nicely and then gently rot over the winter.

  • Avoid bonfires where possible. Instead, put garden waste on the compost heap or add it to the council's green waste collection.

  • Be sure to rake your lawn and keep it free from leaves. Whilst leaves will provide the lawn with nutrients, they will also help encourage unwanted weeds and also suffocate the lawn, which needs to breath. The leaves also make great compost!

  • A good composter should be compact, allow plenty of air to circulate and offer easy access.

  • Good compost needs just two main ingredients: ‘brown’ and ‘green’. Heap on plenty of ‘brown’ materials (such as dead leaves and plants, straw or sawdust) and layer with ‘greens’ (grass cuttings and any vegetable kitchen waste). Try to use more browns than greens as this will make your compost decompose better.

  • If the materials you use are fairly dry, water your compost heap from time to time to keep it ‘sponge-moist’.

  • Don’t use diseased plants or tough weeds such as dandelions and couch grass; you’ll simply be spreading them back onto your garden later.

General Gardening Tips

  • Remove plant debris and diseased leaves from flowers and vegetable patches. Dig up the annuals - plants that last only a season - and put them on the compost heap. Flowering perennials - plants that spring up year after year from their roots - should be cut back. And remove yellowing or dead leaves or flowers before rot develops as well as any weeds hidden under the plant foliage.

  • Plant spring bulbs, such as daffodils, tulips and new perennials - the soil is still warm but moisture levels are increasing, so there is still time for plants to establish themselves before the cold really sets in.

  • This is also a good time of year to plant or move shrubs and trees to allow them to anchor down before the growing season. Reflect on what was successful in this year's planting scheme so that you can adapt your plans for next year.

  • Some vegetables can be sown in sheltered spots at this time of year. For instance, it’s a great time to sow lettuce, spinach, broad beans and cauliflowers.

  • When the autumn rain arrives, fertilize your lawn with a slow-release 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer, and if the lawn needs thatching, this is a great time to do it.

  • Encourage birds into the garden by providing extra food. Place the feeder near a tall shrub, fence or mature tree to provide protection from predators. Plant berry-bearing plants for an extra source of food for birds and other wildlife. Firethorn, rowan and holly plants are recommended.

To encourage more gardeners to get their gardens ready for winter, Forest has launched a ‘National Tidy Garden’ weekend – 23rd and 24th October 2010 - designed to get your garden ready for the winter. Look out for even more top tips on how to ‘winterproof’ your garden on Forest’s twitter and Facebook pages.

For more information & where to buy

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Source: Whitefoot-Forward PR