Professional Gardener - Lawns, greenhouses and borders

The close of the visitor season is the ideal time to assess damage to public routes, Sally Drury suggests.

Lawns and grassed pathways

As the visitor season comes to a close for some, now is a good time to assess the routes taken by the public as they explored your gardens and grounds. An early, dry summer followed by heavy rain and then a sunny start to September may have left some heavily trafficked parts in need of a touch of TLC. Making a record of worn areas will provide a reference for future programming of visitor flow.

Aeration, scarification and a dressing of sharp sand or compost, and a smattering of appropriate grass seed, may be all that is required to reinstate some damaged areas of lawns and grassed paths. Elsewhere, popular routes may need reconstruction work. In areas where footfall is expected to be heavy again next season, it may be worthwhile considering some form of turf reinforcement.

Greenhouses and conservatories

As night temperatures start to dip, now is the last chance to service boilers and clean flues with the aim of improving heating efficiency. Inspect oil tanks and other fuel stores for damage, wear and tear. Check cladding on pipes and consider the use of insulation materials after carrying out any necessary repairs to keep the structures airtight and leak proof.

Check that automatic ventilation is working properly and make room for tender plants that need to be brought in for shelter through the winter months.

Herbaceous border

Continue deadheading plants, especially dahlias and chrysanthemums, to promote further flowering into the autumn. Cut back untidy growth and provide support for big plants and heavy flowers. Keep a watch for earwigs and consider placing traps close to susceptible plants. Cut off and save seed heads - either for seed collection or for decorative use.

Roses

Remove fading flowers. Consider taking cuttings from climbers and ramblers and ensure that new growth is tied in. Place orders for new roses as required.

Bulbs

Consider planting spring bulbs, including crocus, snowdrops, scillas, narcissi and fritillaria.

Alpines

Cuttings that have rooted can be potted up and transferred to a cold frame. Check over alpines in rock gardens, topping up grit levels as necessary.

Hedges, trees and shrubs

Give another light trim to hedges. Start planning for the planting of new hedges, shrubs and trees.

Kitchen garden

Lift main crop carrots, beetroot and onions where they have been late to ripen. As soon as possible, clear areas of ground to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Tie up leaves of endives and cover with a forcing pot.

In the fruit garden, prune loganberries and blackberries. Prune out old wood on peaches and nectarines. Aid the ripening of outdoor grapes by folding back leaves to expose fruit to the sun.

While apples and pears should be picked as soon as they are ripe, it is worth noting that some varieties of pear, such as Williams, are best picked a little before they are ripe and then finished in a dry shed. Consider protecting fruit trees by applying a grease band to the stem and any stakes.


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