Autumn is perhaps the most important gardening season. All the work you put into your garden now will be returned to you next year in the form of beautiful blooms and rich harvests.
But more than that, autumn in your garden is beautiful in its own way. With its glorious colours and refreshing temperatures, autumn deserves to feel like a welcome guest in your garden.
To make your time in your autumn garden as pleasant as it can be, we’ve put together a list of tips and ideas for making your outdoor patch cosier this season.
1. Plant hardy flowers in upcycled containers
While you’re moving tender plants indoors, why not upcycle some old containers and add them to your garden? Everything from food pots to watering cans will do, old rubber boots included.
Give them a fresh coat of paint if needed, drill some drainage holes in them, and fill them with hardy plants that can provide colour throughout winter, such as pansies, hellebores, ilex, camellias, and winter clematis.
Then hang them against a garden wall or fence or anywhere else they fit and enjoy the new colours they add to your garden.
2. Don’t throw fallen leaves away with the rubbish
No more space in your compost bin? Rake leaves into heaps under established trees and shrubs. They will decompose by the middle of next summer and feed the soil.
By doing this, you’ll ensure the fallen leaves won’t smother your low-lying plants or grass. You’ll also surround your garden with beautiful autumn colours. As well as enhancing your soil, using leaves in these ways adds a decidedly autumn feel to your garden.
Tip: You can also use shredded leaves (your lawnmower can help you with that) as mulch over flower beds.
3. Neaten bushes and shrubs
Cut bushes and shrubs when they go yellow, or when the stems begin to bend. Another signal that it’s time to cut them is when they go to seed.
How much you should cut depends on the variety you grow. A general rule is to cut them back to a quarter of their size. Neatly trimmed bushes and shrubs will give your garden a tidy look that will help chase away the melancholy of withered plants.
4. Celebrate autumn harvests
Autumn is a bountiful season that yields apples, pears, grapes, plums, pumpkins, winter squash, late-season berries, and more. If you don’t grow these in your garden, you’ll find plenty in the shops.
Whether they’re homegrown or store-bought, use display bowls, hanging baskets, and other containers to display them in your garden. Place pumpkins and winter squash in a seating area for a welcome splash of colour.
Display autumn fruits and veggies where you can see them. Savour them, share with friends, and restock them while they are in season. Colder temperatures mean they will keep for longer outside without the need to refrigerate them.
5. Plant vegetables in containers or sacks
Add interest to your autumn garden by planting vegetables in containers. It’s a good idea if you don’t have that much planting space but would like to grow your own food.
Lettuce, land cress, rocket, and salad mixes are no-hassle plants that will yield crops throughout winter. They don’t need much planting space either. Larger pots and upcycled containers like old wooden drawers lined with landscaping fabric will do.
Tip: You could also grow your own potatoes in sacks in time for Christmas. For this, you can use cold-stored potato tubers.
6. Add a firepit to your garden
If you don’t have a firepit, autumn’s a good time to add one to your garden. Whether you build it yourself or get one ready-made, it will help you create a cosy seating area to enjoy with family and friends on chilly autumn evenings.
Don’t feel like digging up part of your garden to install a firepit? You can opt for a fire bowl, chiminea, or fire pit table that you can move around as needed.
7. Decorate your garden with autumn wreaths
Missing all the summer colours that filled your garden? Add some autumn wreaths to your garden to decorate it. You can make your own wreaths from the offcuts of overgrown climbers, twigs and any other natural materials.
Add autumn wreaths to tree trunks, fences, walls, the door of your shed, the beams of your gazebo, and any other places where they can be admired.
8. Throw wool cushions and fluffy blankets over garden chairs and benches
Make your garden furniture more inviting during colder days by adding some boho-style wool cushions and fluffy blankets. Soft textures will add to the cosy feel of your garden.
Before temperatures fall too much, Autumn in the garden can be very pleasant. There’s no heat to worry about, no mosquitos, and the crisp, fresh air invites talk and conversations. With a few warm additions to your seating area, you can make your autumn garden inviting for family and friends.
Check out our full list of bohemian garden ideas for an eclectic autumn backyard.
Tip: You could also add one or more propane or electric outdoor heaters if your garden setup allows it.
9. Add fairy lights or garden lanterns to tree branches
String waterproof LED lights over the branches of a tree or drape them around its trunk. Choose warm yellow or orange lights as these go perfectly with autumn’s colour palette.
Twinkly garden lights add a warm glow to your garden, inviting you to spend more time outdoors. Don’t forget your blankets and a hot chocolate!
Tip: Make sure to choose energy-efficient lights designed for outdoor use. You don’t want to worry about them when it starts to rain.
10. Hang homemade bird feeders in the trees
You can make simple hanging bird feeders from birdseed mix, gelatine, and cookie cutters. Mix the gelatine with the boiling water, add the birdseed, and stir together well.
Fill the cookie-cutter moulds with the seed mix and leave them to harden for a few hours. Thread a string through them and hang on a tree.
11. Create a DIY garden office
Turning a garden shed into an office space requires a bit of work, especially if you want to insulate it from wintry weather. But it can be worth it. Working in a garden office can improve focal attention by 25%, according to research.
More than boosting your productivity, a garden office can add a calming and useful new feature to your garden, one you can retreat to whenever you need time alone. It can also be a fun home improvement project that encourages you to hone your DIY skills.
Idea: If you don’t need a garden office, you could build a gazebo instead.
What gardening should you do in autumn?
Harvest the fruits and vegetables from the last summer crops. Plant spring bulbs, roses, trees, and evergreens. Dig out summer bulbs and store them safely until spring. Move tender plants into shelter before temperatures drop.
Sow hardy annuals in your flower beds, and winter and spring crops outside or in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Transplant hardy plants from your pots into your garden while the soil is both moist and warm.
The bottom line: there’s plenty of gardening work to keep you busy this autumn!
What should I be doing in the garden in October?
- Rake and compost fallen leaves or make leaf mould out of them.
- Clear the flower and vegetable beds of dead and withered plants.
- Cut back withered perennials to 3 to 5 inches.
- Dig up and divide overcrowded perennials to promote healthy growth.
- Plant new fruit trees, evergreens, or berry bushes.
- Inspect established trees and rose bushes and cut or remove any withered branches or leaves.
- Apply mulch to the plants and berry bushes that need it.
- Cover plants that are vulnerable to frost with leaves, fleece, or brushwood to prepare them for winter.
What can I plant in autumn and winter now?
Autumn’s a great time for planting tulips, daffodils and crocuses, as well as berry bushes, trees, and evergreens. You can also plant winter vegetable crops like spinach, winter lettuce, rocket, radishes, potatoes, and salad mixes. And don’t forget about slower-growing veggies that will yield a rich crop come summer, such as garlic, shallots, onions, carrots, peas, sprouts, broccoli, and broad beans.
In autumn, the soil is moist, and the temperatures are less likely to fluctuate as they often do in spring. This gives plants a better chance to become established and can save you time on watering them.
Planting things in your garden in autumn is also good for the environment since you’ll be using less water to keep them alive compared to planting them in spring.
What plants look good in autumn?
Asters, anemones, cyclamens, autumn crocuses, winter aconite, and pansies can add colour and interest to your garden throughout autumn and into winter. Vines like Virginia creeper, sweet autumn clematis, trumpet honeysuckle and climbing hydrangea also look great in autumn.
Last but not least, small trees like crab apples, Chinese tupelo and European spindle can paint your garden wonderful autumn colours. Add any of these to your outdoor patch and they’ll transform your garden into an autumn haven.
How do you enjoy your garden in autumn?
You can plant vegetables, flowers, and trees, exercise your arms raking leaves, divide perennials, build bird boxes, hang birdseed from branches, and gather fruits from trees and berry bushes. You can also make a fire in the firepit or chiminea and relax on blanket-covered garden chairs with family and friends.
More on this: 10 Autumn Garden Jobs to Do Right Now
Looking after your garden in autumn and observing nature’s cycles can be calming and therapeutic. Plus, you can involve kids in outdoor activities, from gathering leaves to creating and hanging bird food in the trees. So, you have no excuses to ignore your garden this autumn.