All the answers to your autumn gardening questions

Even though the summer and flowering season is over, there are still plenty of jobs you can get busy with to make the most of your garden during Autumn. From planting spring flowering bulbs to composting, you may have a question or two on the autumn garden. We’ve got all the answers to your autumn gardening questions!


Which plants are the best to grow in autumn?

Many plants continue to flower during the autumn months. If your garden is looking a little bare now summer is over, consider these autumn flowers:

  • - Asters
  • - Crocus
  • - Pansies
  • - Lilyturf
  • - Nerine
  • - Heather
  • - Sternbergia


How do you prepare a garden for Autumn?

As summer comes to an end and autumn starts creeping up, there are some gardening jobs you can do to prepare your garden:

  • - Trim and prune perennials.
  • - Remove finished annual plants or remove dead growth.
  • - Clear out debris from flower beds, including fallen leaves.
  • - Check for any pests or diseases.
  • - Start making leafmould.
  • - Continue weeding.
  • - Plant bulbs for spring flowers.


Why should you do your spring planting in the Autumn?

Autumn is the perfect time to plant spring bulbs for flowering the following year. There are a few reasons why you should plant spring flowering bulbs in autumn, including:

  • - Warmer soil to help root growth.
  • - Less competition from weeds and other plants.
  • - Reduces stress of a new environment.
  • - Rainfall helps benefit plant growth and reduces watering.
  • - Less risk of pests damaging bulbs.


Why do some bulbs require cold forcing to bloom?

Cold forcing bulbs simulates a cold and darker weather environment of autumn/winter to encourage bloom. Cold forcing is helpful if you forget to plant spring flowering bulbs in the autumn by tricking the bulbs that winter hibernation is over.

To cold force bulbs, you need to keep them in a dark and cold environment for a short period (usually around ten weeks) to encourage root growth. After this time, the bulbs can be transferred to a warmer and lighter environment to encourage the bulbs to sprout and bloom.

Which bulbs do you plant in the Autumn for spring flowers?

Autumn is the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbous plants. There are many plants you can plant now ready to enjoy spring blooms. Some flowers to consider planting include daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, crocus, iris, snowdrops, and alliums.

Check out these flowers and vegetables to consider planting in Autumn

Are you supposed to cut back perennials in the Autumn?

While it is not essential, cutting back perennials in the autumn after flowering improves the appearance and flowering. Using prunes, cutting back perennials around 3 to 5 inches above the soil is best for healthy growth next year.

How to protect plants from the cold?

The harsh and freezing weather of winter can kill or damage many plants. Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your plants from the cold. You can move any plants into the warm (an insulated greenhouse is ideal).

You can also add a layer of mulch around plants, giving roots of tender plants some added protection. Covering plants is another way, either using fleece, a warming jacket, or cloches.

Why is it best to plant trees in the spring and Autumn?

The best time for planting new trees is in the spring or autumn. The soil is warmer in the autumn, so planting is preferable. The main reason for planting trees in autumn is that it provides a growing season for the tree before the stresses of summer temperatures.

Giving newly planted trees a season to grow beforehand enables a stronger root system to establish before growing new leaves in spring. The warmer soil in autumn also helps establish the tree roots better and absorb nutrients.

When planting a tree in the Autumn, how do you prepare the soil?

  • Dig the ground and loosen the soil to a depth the size of the rootball.
  • Loosen the surrounding soil to help the roots penetrate the soil.
  • Soak the rootball and loosen the roots.
  • Mix organic matter to heavy or sandy soils to improve the soil structure.
  • Avoid using fertiliser in the soil.
  • Install suitable drainage for waterlogged soils.
  • Plant, refill the hole, and add a suitable tree guard.

Make sure the tree is well watered and nourished with mulch while it starts growing. Adding a sturdy stake to hold the tree in place while growing is also a good idea.

Vegetable Garden

How to prepare a vegetable garden for Autumn?

While many flowers may have finished the season in autumn, there are plenty of vegetables you can still grow in the cooler weather. If you are considering planting vegetables in the autumn, consider following these tips:

  • - Prepare the soil by loosening compact soil.
  • - Add mulch, compost, or fertilisers.
  • - Remove vegetables that have finished or already harvested.
  • - Pick up any fallen fruits or leftovers that attract pests.
  • - Get rid of any weeds that are growing in your veg garden.


Not got a vegetable garden? Check out our easy guide to starting one here.

What are some fruits/veggies you need to plant in the winter?

Hardy vegetables are ideal to grow in the cold and harsh weather of winter. There are many different fruits and vegetables that you can start planting now to grow over winter. Most vegetables can grow outside without any protection. However, some veg will need a little protection.


  • - Broccoli
  • - Brussels Spouts
  • - Cabbage and Kale
  • - Leeks
  • - Onion family, including Spring Onions, Garlic, and Shallots
  • - Peas and Broad Beans
  • - Chard (requires some protection from frosts).
  • - Perpetual Spinach



  • - Crabapples
  • - Pears
  • - Raspberries
  • - Strawberries
  • - Blackberries
  • - Blueberries
  • - Gooseberries
  • - Red, white and black currant plants


When do you plant your garden greens in the Autumn?

For those greenfingers with a vegetable garden, there are some greens you can continue growing or plant during the autumn. Some hardy greens, such as kale, squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and root vegetables, are ideal for planting in the Autumn.

Lawn Care

What are some ways to prepare a lawn for the Autumn?

There are several ways you can prepare a lawn and give it some TLC before the winter. Giving your lawn some care will help it over the winter and keep it healthy for the new year.

  • - Remove thatch
  • - Remove weeds and moss
  • - Aerate the lawn
  • - Fix or nourish worn patches
  • - Collect fallen leaves


Green Manure

What is green manure?

Green manure is an alternative to animal manure. Gardeners use green manure as a plant-based alternative to help bring nutrients to the soil surface. This is especially beneficial for vegetable gardens.

How does green manure work?

Green manure is sown as a seed on bare soil patches, usually after a harvested vegetable crop, between existing crops, or underneath tall growing crops. The plants are dug into the ground just before flowering, rotting down to release nutrients into the soil.

Using green manure mimics the natural processes that help break down organic matter to provide nutrients to plants. Adding either manure or green manure feeds the soil with nutrients that help keep soil healthy and support beneficial microorganisms.

What are the steps in the preparation of green manure?

There are several steps to prepare green manure:

  1. 1. Choose your seeds and measure the planting area with the sowing rate.
  2. 2. Prepare the soil, remove all weeds, and scatter the seeds.
  3. 3. Use a rake to rake the seeds into the soil surface lightly.
  4. 4. Leave to grow until just before flowering.
  5. 5. When ready, cut the foliage and leave to wilt for around two days.
  6. 6. Using a spade, dig up and turn the roots and wilted foliage back into the soil.

Ideally, you should dig in green manure around 3-4 before planting new vegetable crops. If you are sowing seeds, green manure must be dug in at least four weeks before sowing seeds.

What are the best green manure crops?

There are many types of green manure crops you can use. The choice of green manure will depend on your soil type, soil acidity, time of year, and nutrient availability.

  • - Alfalfa
  • - Alsike clover
  • - Buckwheat
  • - Grazing rye
  • - Trefoil
  • - Winter tares


Find out more about the cultivar selection of green manure and which is best for your garden.


What are the benefits of compost?

Compost is considered liquid gold by gardeners due to the benefits it provides to a garden. Compost is a natural source of nutrients to help improve plant growth. You can make it yourself, and it doesn’t add harsh chemicals to the soil.

How long does it take for a compost pile to decompose?

The time it takes for a compost pile to decompose depends on the contents, size of the compost pile, and how frequently it is turned. It can take anywhere between six months to two years for a compost pile to decompose fully.

How can compost making be hastened?

You can use some tactics to help hasten the decomposition of a compost pile by providing the ideal environment for microorganisms. Some tips to consider include:

  • - Breaking down contents as small as possible.
  • - Have the right brown (dry) and green (moist) content ratio.
  • - Regularly turn the compost pile for aeration.
  • - Keep the compost pile damp, not soggy.
  • - Add beneficial organisms, such as worms, beetles, and centipedes.


Can you plant directly into compost?

While you can plant directly into compost, it is advisable not to. The excessive mineral content and richness of compost can lead to various problems, such as damage to plant roots. There are also some nutrients lacking in compost that will hinder plant growth. Compost should be used in addition to soil.

Can you keep adding to a compost pile?

Yes, you can keep adding to a compost pile. Adding new materials to the top of the compost pile is advisable. However, adding new materials can slow down the speed of decomposition. An add-as-you-go compost pile can take over two years to decompose.

What should you not put in a compost pile?

While there are many items you can add to a compost pile, there are some items you should avoid putting in altogether. Some things you should not put in a compost pile include:

  • - Meat, diary, or baked foods
  • - Sawdust from treated wood
  • - Highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruit
  • - Oily and greasy foods
  • - Animal waste
  • - Weeds


What is the easiest technique for making compost?

Starting a compost pile is quick and straightforward. All that is required to start making compost easily is five simple steps:

  1. 1. Choose a container and location.
  2. 2. Add equal amounts of brown (dry) and green (moist) materials.
  3. 3. Chop up the materials and add separate layers for green and brown materials.
  4. 4. Add water if the compost is too dry.
  5. 5. Regularly turn the pile to aerate the compost.


Discover more about composting, including some tips and common problems

How frequently should a compost pile be turned?

It is recommended that a compost pile should be regularly turned. For optimal results, consider turning compost every three or four days. This helps speed up the decomposition process and provides an ideal environment for microorganisms.

How do you make good compost for growing vegetables?

To make good compost for growing vegetables, you must balance nitrogen-heavy materials (green materials, such as grass clippings and food waste) and carbon-heavy materials (brown materials, such as fallen leaves and wood stems).

Should you water after adding compost?

Yes, it is recommended to water the soil after applying compost. Watering the soil after applying compost helps release nutrients into the soil and improves the absorbability of nutrients for plant roots.

Fallen Leaves

What happens if I don’t rake leaves this autumn?

Fallen leaves in your garden are an inevitable part of autumn as trees start to retain water for winter and reduce the energy needed to survive. While some may be inclined to leave the fallen leaves, there are some reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • - It provides a place for pests to nest.
  • - Your garden can look messy and untidy.
  • - Excessive leaves can mat and smother lawns and plants.
  • - Plant disease pathogens can survive on dead leaves, spreading them to your garden.


What’s the most effective way to reuse leaves?

The most effective way to use all the fallen leaves in your garden is to make leafmould. Leafmould is similar to compost, where fallen leaves decompose to create a nutrient-rich fertiliser. You can then apply leafmould to your garden to support healthy plant growth.

Are fallen leaves good for mulch?

Yes, most fallen leaves are good for mulch. Decomposed fallen leaves, or leafmould, is a natural mulch or fertiliser you can apply to your soil. Leaves contain around 80% of the nutrients from a tree. Oak, Beech, and Hornbeam leaves are the best for making mulch.

How long does it take for dry leaves to decompose?

The time it takes for dry leaves to decompose depends on the quantity and size. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to develop leafmould. Cutting leaves into smaller pieces can help speed up the process. Quality leafmould is dark brown with an earthy aroma and crumble texture.

Can you compost leaves that are covered in snow?

Yes, you can compost leaves that are covered in snow. However, the cold and wet snow can drastically slow the decomposition process. Microorganisms require warmth to work effectively, so adding cold snow can significantly hinder natural decomposition processes.