Your Autumn Gardening Checklist

Your Autumn Gardening Checklist

Your Autumn Gardening Checklist

As the vibrant hues of summer give way to the warm tones of autumn, it's time to turn our attention to the garden. Autumn is a crucial season for Australian gardeners, as it sets the stage for a bountiful harvest and prepares the landscape for the cooler months ahead. In this autumn gardening checklist, we'll explore essential tasks to ensure your garden thrives during this transitional season.

Harvest Summer Crops:

Before diving into autumn-specific tasks, make sure to harvest any remaining summer crops. This includes tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, and any other warm-season vegetables. Harvesting at the right time ensures you enjoy the full flavour and nutritional benefits of your home-grown produce. It will also refresh your garden beds and planters for new batch of plants and crops.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables:

Autumn is the perfect time to plant cool-season vegetables. Consider adding varieties like broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and kale to your garden. These crops will appreciate the cooler temperatures and provide a fresh harvest in the coming months adding a pop of colour to your winter garden.

Prepare Soil for Winter:

Take advantage of the autumn season to enrich your soil for the winter ahead with an organic fertiliser. Add well-rotted compost or organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility if the soil is extremely nutrient-deficient. Australian soils can benefit from the addition of gypsum, especially in clayey regions, to enhance drainage. 

Prepare for Frost:

In some regions of Australia, autumn brings the risk of frost. Protect sensitive plants by covering them with frost cloth or hessian sacks overnight. Be vigilant about weather forecasts, and take precautions when frost is expected. Towards the end of autumn or when the weather turns consistently frosty, stop watering your plants in the evening to avoid the moisture freezing and damaging your plant’s roots overnight. Opt for mornings instead when the sun can warm up the cold water throughout the day.

Prune Summer-Blooming Plants:

Trim back spent flowers and prune summer-blooming shrubs to encourage new growth. This not only tidies up the garden but also redirects the plant's energy to essential areas, promoting healthier and more robust growth in the next season. Remember, there is less sunlight during autumn and winter so sun-loving plants like roses, citrus trees, and lavender will often reduce growth during this time of year, and is completely normal to appear sparse until the days become longer again.

Plant Spring-Flowering Bulbs:

Now is the time to plan for a vibrant spring garden by planting bulbs. Australian gardens can showcase an array of stunning blooms, including daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths as early as the end of winter. Plant bulbs at the recommended depth, and you'll be rewarded with a burst of scents and colours when the warmer seasons come back around.

Mulch and Watering:

As temperatures begin to drop, apply a layer of mulch to retain soil moisture and regulate temperature. Mulch can be wood chips, bark, stray, hay, and pruned healthy leaves. Do not mulch right up against the stem of the plant as this can sometimes cause fungal issues and weakened structures.

In the cooler months, water your plants less frequently but with larger volumes when the soil becomes dry to the touch. This method is called deep watering and is essential during autumn as it ensures plants have sufficient moisture to carry them through the drier winter months, and is less likely to waterlog the soil.  

Maintain Lawn Health:

Autumn is an opportune time to care for your lawn. Mow grass to a suitable height and aerate the soil to improve oxygen flow. Autumn often comes with increased frost and rain causing your lawn to become waterlogged and slushy underfoot. If your soil tends to retain water, consider improving drainage by adding either a lawn fertiliser or organic matter, such as compost, to the soil. This helps create a well-structured soil that drains effectively and promotes good root development and winter hardiness in your grass.

Keep An Eye Out for Pests and Diseases:

Autumn can be a vulnerable time for plants as they prepare to go dormant or enter a rest period over winter. Many pests and diseases are still active even in frosty conditions, so keep a close eye on your garden. Remove any diseased or pest-infested plant material promptly and consider applying organic or chemical treatments if necessary.

Weed Your Garden Regularly:

Weeds can thrive in the cooler temperatures of autumn by stealing vital nutrients and water away from your plants. Regularly remove weeds to prevent them from competing with your plants for nutrients and water. Another benefit of mulching is that it suppresses weed growth.

Falling Leaves:

Deciduous plants like oak trees and lilly pilly drop leaves in autumn. Falling leaves can accumulate and create a dense layer that blocks sunlight and air circulation. Rake and remove excess leaves or use them for composting and mulching. Be sure to carefully inspect leaves that have fallen from non-deciduous plants.  

Leaves that have spots, bumps, or bite marks may indicate an unseen disease or pest infection that you do not want to spread to your healthy plants. Immediately discard them into your appropriate waste bin and sterilize your gardening tools if needed.

By following this comprehensive autumn gardening checklist, you'll ensure your garden not only survives but thrives during the cooler months. Embrace the beauty of autumn, and let your garden prepare for a spectacular display in the seasons to come.