September gardening tips
General tasks and garden maintenance
Start your compost
Get your compost going by buying a compost bin or building a partially enclosed and easily accessible area for a heap. It is essential to replace the goodness in soil and autumn produces quantities of garden waste that will add invaluable organic richness back into your soil next spring.
Remember to add a variety of different materials; spent vegetable plants are ideal, but NEVER add diseased or pest-ridden material to your compost heap - it will nurture whatever villain you are trying to eliminate with loving care!
Clear garden debris
Keep weeding; most perennial weeds are susceptible to weedkiller this month and systemic weedkillers will carry on working throughout the winter. Also clear any debris and diseased material from your garden. Pests and diseases that overwinter in your garden will reappear next spring with a vengeance so get rid of them now. Burn diseased material and put the rest of your garden rubbish (apart from woody stems) in the compost.
Clean out the greenhouse
Once tomatoes and other greenhouse crops are over, give the greenhouse a thorough clean to prevent pests from making a home in that lovely warm environment, ready to leap into action next spring.
Dig clay soil
If your soil is heavy clay, start digging it over now - add plenty of organic matter to improve the quality and pea shingle to improve the drainage. It can be left in a pretty rough state over the winter when the cold will break the lumps down, making spring planting infinitely easier!
Should September turn into an Indian summer, remember to keep watering thoroughly once or twice a week rather than little and often. Containers and hanging baskets need watering every day.
For recently planted large shrubs or trees, leave a hose trickling around the base for an hour. The same goes for established plants in dry periods - camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas will abort next season's flowers if they get too dry.
Ensure trees or shrubs planted in the last couple of years on lawns or in areas of rough grass have a circle of clear earth around them - this MUST be kept clear or grass will prevent essential moisture getting through. Mulching with bark or compost will help.
With the ideal planting conditions of autumn (warm moist soil), now is the time to plant container grown shrubs, trees, fruit bushes, perennials and bulbs. The key to successful planting is to water in well. Soak the rootball in a bucket until no air bubbles come to the surface, dig the planting hole, fill with water and allow to drain away. Place the plant in the hole, fill with soil, firm gently and water well with a watering can - this will give the plant a huge advantage over one planted with a dry rootball in a dry hole and watered only on the surface.