Summer is on the way out – but the beginning of autumn can be an exciting time in the garden; a chance to renew, refresh and shake things up.

Out with the old, in with the new…

Depending on the weather, the soil, how much time you’ve had to garden and a hundred other factors, your garden this summer will have had some unique triumphs – and some unique failures. September is a great time to evaluate your garden, and improve it for next year.

If the soil is not too baked hard, then you can begin to lift and divide herbaceous perennials and think about where to put them to improve your garden for the next season. Keep new divisions well watered.

If you’ve got gaps in the borders after cutting back flopping geraniums or other plants, then fill them in with autumn ‘stars’ like sedum and chrysanthemum.

September is also a good time, depending on the weather, to start thinking about planting new trees or shrubs, but only if the soil is suitably damp and good to dig. If it’s still dry then wait until the autumn rains have softened the soil somewhat.

Now is also a good time to think about new bulbs you’d like for the spring such as crocus and narcissus.

In the fruit & veg plot…

Keep harvesting produce such as sweetcorn, which is ready when a squeezed kernal is milky.

Remove plants that have finished their harvest to maintain a neat, tidy plot.

Keep things well watered to enhance the growth of your crops.

Plant garlic bulbs for next year at the end of September and remove leaves that are shading pumpkins to help them ripen.

Cut back the fruited canes of summer raspberries.

Begin to check for ripened apples, which are ready when they detatch easily in your hand. Keep grass under orchard trees mown.

Elsewhere in the garden…

If the weather is cool close the greenhouse at night to retain heat, and consider cleaning and washing it down as your greenhouse crops reduce to keep plants healthy.

September and October are great months for sorting out any issues with your lawn. It’s still warm enough to lay turf or sow seed, and the grass can get established before winter and benefit from autumn rains. If you have an existing lawn that needs work you can also renovate it this month. Rake any moss and old grass from the lawn, aerate it with a fork and spread an autumn feed on it.

Get your compost bins ready for the autumn clear up as you’ll fill them quickly, ready to make new compost for next year.

Install water butts to make the best of winter rain collection.

Mulch your plants at some point over the autumn if you have heavy clay soil; this will help to break down the compact nature of the clay and protect plants from winter weather, too.

And finally…

Sit down with a nice cup of tea and enjoy thinking about areas of your garden that you might want to re-design for next year. Anyone can try this with a piece of paper and a few photos of your garden. Who knows, you might make next year’s ‘show’ the best yet. Enjoy.