Autumn is synonymous with shorter days, a move indoors and hauling out your winter wardrobe. While it’s not time to hibernate just yet, winter will soon be upon us.  Before you throw a cover on the Weber and say goodbye to long, lazy dinners under the stars, it’s wise to spend some time preparing your garden for the onslaught of colder weather. We’ve compiled our favourite autumn gardening tips to help you get your garden ready for winter.

One of the most important autumn gardening tips is to prune, purposefully.

Many wannabe Keith Kirstens are of the mistaken belief that pruning involves randomly lopping off everything and anything in sight. While thoroughly cutting back dead or dying flowers and branches is essential, pruning is not another term for blindly attacking your foliage.

It’s worth your while to thin out any bushes or plants that are growing too big for a space, and then to remove any flowers or leaves that are dead or dying – just make sure not to cut off any main stems. Pruning is an essential part of preparing your garden for the next growing season, as it enables the plants to channel adequate nutrients into new buds and stems.

Proper pruning will leave you with space to plant new additions to your garden.

Surprisingly, autumn is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs, as they’ll have enough time to grow established root systems before the cold sets in. If you’re after a splash of colour, planting bulbs now will ensure that they have time to grow healthy root systems and absorb plenty of nutrients in preparation for their much anticipated spring debut.

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Fortify your new and established plants by feeding them fertiliser and mulch.

It should go without saying that one of the gardening tips that applies all year round is to give your garden the nutrients it needs. The quality of soil varies greatly around the country, which means that wherever you are in SA, your soil will need some type of supplement. If your lawn has been known to suffer at the hands of frost or dry air, now’s a good time to cover your lawn in fertiliser – think of it as an immune booster for the months ahead. Visit your local nursery to get advice on the best food for your garden.

If you’re an aspiring urban farmer, now’s the time to plant root vegetables.

There’s nothing as rewarding as eating food that’s freshly picked from your own garden. The winter solstice – the 21 March – is thought of as the official winter planting day, but from late February up until the end of March is generally a good time to plant winter fare.

Get your veggie garden ready for a winter harvest by planting squash, turnips and onions. ‘Companion planting’ can be fruitful now too – pair peas alongside carrots, parsley next to lettuce and beetroot with Swiss Chard for an array of vegetables that are packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Before you put down your tools and settle in front of the fire (or heater), give your tools some TLC.

Now’s the time to service your garden equipment. As lawns don’t grow as quickly in winter as they do in summer, take this opportunity to clean and repair your tools, and sort out your garden shed while you’re at it. It’s also a great time for planning your gardening goals for the next couple of months – gather resources and information now, so that when spring arrives, you’re ready to go. If you want to protect your lawn from being at the mercy of garden pests like moles and crickets, find out about our lawn care and pest control services here and here.

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Image credit – Ideal Living