September is generally a cooler, gustier month than August and the days are noticeably shorter. There are some jobs, however, like preparing the lawn for winter and pruning, that are best done at this time of year.
If your lawn requires it, this is the ideal time to scarify, reducing and removing the thatch that has built up over the summer months. If your lawn is compacted from heavy traffic, or just children constantly playing on it, it is advisable to hollow tine to decrease the compaction and allow oxygen to get down to the roots, aiding moisture to penetrate deeper into the soil profile.
Lavender can be pruned not only to tidy it up but to make a neat compact shape, preparing it for next year. It needs a light prune when the flowers die but don’t cut the woody stems because the lavender won’t necessarily regenerate. Wisteria can also be pruned. Cut back long shoots within a few buds from the main framework and prune out excessive growth or overly-long shoots.
It’s also a good time to buy and/or start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year – think about colour schemes, which shrubs may be in flower at the same time and what height they will be. Once purchased, get them into your borders as soon as possible planted about three or four times the depth of the bulb.
By late September the risk of frost is just around the corner, and this is a good time to consider which tender plants are worth saving to overwinter in a frost free place. For example, Pelargoniums survive well in a conservatory or a sunny porch, and flower beautifully for ages. Fuchsias, and Pelargoniums can be put under glass, others such as Petunias, Marguerite’s, Diascias, Osteopermums are ready for taking cuttings.
Lift plants off the ground in the greenhouse as it can get very cold, especially if concrete slabs are laid as the base. This allows air to circulate, preventing the damp stagnation which causes grey mould – so often a problem when over-wintering plants. This will, of course, save money for next year spring will start with mature plants which should thrive.
Talking of bulbs, here are some autumn flowering bulbs to look out for: Nerine bowdenii with bright pale pink trumpets, great for containers or sunny hot borders. A personal favourite of mine, Schizostylis coccinea, grows showy little bulbs which really stand out with their bright red star-like flowers. Lastly, Colchicums, commonly known as Autumn Crocus or naked ladies as they flower with no leaves. They are great for borders or naturalising in lawns.
Jobs for September
- Move evergreen shrubs – the soil is still warm so it is ideal time to do this.
- Autumn lawn-feed lawns, scarify and hollow tine aerate if required
- Reduce roses to prevent wind rock (loosening of the roots caused by the wind blowing through top heavy roses).
- Lift Dahlia and Canna tubers before the first frosts.
- Keep your Rhododendrons and Camellias well watered to help them with good flower bud formation
- Ripen remaining tomatoes indoors from the end of September.
- Sow winter vegetable crops such as lettuce, turnips, spinach and winter onion sets.
- Net garden ponds to prevent leaves falling in.