Security As we advance to the months where night is longer than day, it is a good idea to check all fences, locks and security devices. Upgrade where necessary.
Compost bins/bays Prepare for the volumes of incoming autumn debris, spent bedding plants and prunings.
Hedges, trees & shrubs Give another trim to hedges. Ahead of autumn and winter gales, check the health and stability of trees and large shrubs. Plan for new planting.
Lawns & grass paths Areas subject to heavy wear may be looking jaded now. Weeds may have established where grass has been under stress and there may be signs of disease. Remove weeds where they cannot be tolerated. Spike worn areas, water and feed. Check the blades and tines on scarifiers and aerators - order replacements for any that are damaged or missing. Finalise plans for new grass areas and source new turf and/or appropriate grass seed for use on badly worn areas.
Autumn clearance Check over equipment needed for autumn work. Inspect blowers, sweepers and vacuum collectors, paying attention to brushes and zippered bags. Stock red/white incident tape to rope off any areas subjected to gale damage. Check brushcutters and ensure there is a supply of line. Check chainsaws and update staff training or ensure a list of local, qualified and approved contractors is to hand.
Greenhouses & conservatories Check heating systems are working as early as possible. If necessary, book a service for the boiler, thermostats and control systems. Ensure piping is lagged and insulation materials are ready to use. Make sure tender plants that have been outdoors can be brought inside quickly. Stock up on Hessian sacking or bubble polythene for wrapping up the more tender subjects that have to stay outdoors.
Prepare for winter Inspect spreading equipment, make sure shovels and brushes are in good condition and check early-ordering prices for grit and de-icing compounds. Check coolants and change or top up as needed in all vehicles required during winter.
Planning for 2015 Record what worked and what did not both in terms of planting schemes and visitor events.
Sally Drury, Technical editor