Garden care

Rake fallen leaves from lawns, borders and garden ponds. You can add the leaves to the compost heap, or make them into leaf mould.

Scarify and spike lawns to improve surface drainage and aeration – apply an autumn feed and moss killer if required.

Check garden paths and driveways for patches of green mould, algae and mosses that could cause a slip hazard. Apply Patio Magic with a watering can or sprayer, for instant results with no need for further scrubbing or pressure washing.

Raise all patio pots and containers onto bricks or pot feet, to help prevent winter wet.

Outdoor plants

Plant tulip bulbs now for a colourful display next spring. Arrange them in bold groups in borders or patio pots – dwarf, medium and tall growing varieties are now available.

Regularly check plants growing in containers to ensure the compost doesn’t dry out. Even after a period of rain, the compost can still be quite dry, so water if required when weather allows.

Inspect potted bulbs that are being forced for Christmas and New Year flowering on a regular basis, and water them sparingly if necessary.

Pot up hippeastrum (amaryllis) bulbs for Christmas and early New Year flowering. Keep them in a warm position and water when necessary.

Prune established roses by about half to prevent ‘wind rock’ – do the same for shrubs of buddleia davidii and lavatera.

Plant winter and spring flowering heathers, in groups of three or five of one variety for best results. Erica carnea and Erica darleyensis varieties can be grown in alkaline soils.

Put guards around young trees and shrubs, if there’s any danger of rabbit and deer damage.

Plant hardy winter-flowering shrubs such as viburnum tinus, viburnum fragrans, mahonia winter sun, skimmia rubella and jasminum nudiflorum.

Get ready to protect tree ferns, bananas, palms and cordylines from frosts. If they’re in pots, move them to sheltered positions, and protect any plants in open ground by wrapping in horticultural fleece and mulching around the base of the plants with composted bark.

Check that all your greenhouse heaters and thermostats are working properly before the onset of any severe frosts. Insulate greenhouses and cold frames with bubble wrap polythene.

Inspect all pansies and violas (seedlings and mature plants alike) for signs of pansy leaf spot. The spots and blotches on the leaves are fungal and will disfigure the plants – spray with a fungicide such as Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra.

Now is an excellent time to plant hardy trees, shrubs, roses and perennials. Always plant into well-prepared soil, but never when the ground is frozen or waterlogged.

Fruit & vegetables

If you’re lucky enough to have a surplus of apples or pears, you can store them somewhere cool through the winter. Wrap apples in newspaper and space them out in boxes – pears are best stored unwrapped but layered in wooden boxes.

Now is the perfect time to plant soft fruits such as raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries and currants. Plant them all into well-prepared soil.

Regularly inspect all fruit and vegetables in storage, and promptly remove any showing signs of disease or rotting.

Plant garlic cloves in a sunny, fertile site. Cloves should be planted so just the tips are showing, in rows 15cms (6″) apart, leaving 30cm (12″) between rows.

Plant new rhubarb crowns in well-prepared soil, adding plenty of well-rotted manure or similar bulky organic matter.

Spray fruit trees with an organic winter wash. This helps to kill off many over-wintering pests and their eggs, preventing future damage to the fruit.

House plants

Check all houseplants for greenfly and other pests – they can multiply quickly when your central heating is on. Chemical and organic treatments are both available.

When watering houseplants, always use tepid room temperature water. Cold water can shock the roots and cause stress to the plant.

Wildlife and bird care

Keep bird feeders and bird baths filled with food and water, and make a habit of cleaning feeders before refilling them to help prevent the spread of diseases.

Clean out old bird boxes, which can harbour parasites – the birds will be looking for cosy winter roosts any time now.


Insulate and turn off the water supply to all outside taps and irrigation systems. Bring all your hosepipes and watering cans indoors, and store them undercover for the winter.

Before putting lawn mowers away for the winter, ensure that they’re dry and clean. Remember to drain out any fuel – unleaded petrol doesn’t keep, and may cause problems when you try to start up the engines again next year.

Spaying flowers in the garden with water or plant protection products such as pesticides against diseases and pests.