Posted by Catherine Wainwright, on November 2, 2023.
As the vibrant hues of autumn leaves gracefully drift away, November gently guides our gardens into the embrace of winter. The air grows crisper and the daylight hours shorter, creating a different landscape in our outdoor havens.
The once-lush foliage starts to retreat, making way for a more subdued, yet equally enchanting, winter garden. Trees and shrubs begin to expose their elegant, intricate branches, while the dormant perennials patiently wait for their moment to shine again.
But make no mistake, dear gardeners, for beneath this serene exterior, there’s a flurry of activity to be undertaken. November is not a time for gardeners to rest. In fact, it’s a pivotal month for nurturing and preparing your garden for the cold months ahead.
Capture Fallen Leaves
As our gardens shed their vibrant leaves, it is important to address the carpet of gold. Raking and disposing of fallen leaves might seem like a tedious task, but it plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy garden ecosystem. Leaves left to accumulate can smother your lawn, block sunlight from reaching your plants, and create a haven for pests and diseases. They can also turn into a soggy, impenetrable mass during rainy spells, posing drainage issues.
However, fret not, for those fallen leaves are a valuable resource waiting to be harnessed. Fallen leaves, when properly composted, transform into “black gold,” a nutrient-rich humus that works wonders in your garden. Over time, microorganisms and beneficial fungi will break down the leaves into a crumbly, dark substance that resembles soil. This leaf mould can be incorporated into your garden beds, enhancing soil structure and moisture retention. It’s nature’s way of recycling and rejuvenating your garden.
Guidance on Cleaning and Storing Outdoor Furniture
As the chilly embrace of winter approaches, it’s time to give your garden furniture some well-deserved attention. Cleaning and storing your outdoor seating and tables properly can significantly extend their lifespan, ensuring they emerge from hibernation in spring looking as good as new.
Start by giving your furniture a thorough cleaning. Use a mild detergent or specialised outdoor furniture cleaner to remove dirt, grime, and any stains that may have accumulated over the past months. Pay attention to the material of your furniture, as cleaning methods can vary. For wooden pieces, a gentle scrub with soapy water should suffice, while metal or plastic furniture may tolerate a more robust cleaning approach.
After cleaning, ensure your furniture is completely dry before storage to prevent mould or mildew growth. If possible, store your pieces indoors or in a dry, well-ventilated area like a garden shed or garage. If indoor storage isn’t an option, invest in high-quality furniture covers designed to protect against winter weather. These covers provide an additional layer of defence, shielding your furniture from rain, snow, and frost.
Garden containers, such as pots and planters, also need some TLC to brave the winter chill. Empty containers of their summer blooms, as the freezing temperatures can cause soil and plant roots to expand, potentially cracking your pots. Clean your containers to remove any lingering soil or plant debris.
To provide extra insulation for your container plants, consider wrapping the pots in bubble wrap or hessian fabric. This protective layer acts as a barrier against the cold, preventing sudden temperature fluctuations that can harm the roots of your plants. Additionally, elevating your pots onto pot feet or wooden blocks can help improve drainage and prevent your containers from sitting in stagnant water during rainy spells.
Finally, if you have particularly delicate or frost-sensitive plants in containers, consider relocating them to a sheltered spot or wrapping them in horticultural fleece. This added protection can make all the difference in ensuring your cherished plants survive the winter intact.
Lawn Maintenance Tasks, Including Mowing and Aerating
While the garden may be winding down for the year, your lawn still requires some attention to ensure it stays healthy and vibrant. November presents an excellent opportunity to address a few key lawn care tasks.
Firstly, continue mowing your lawn during dry periods. Although grass growth tends to slow down in the colder months, it’s essential to keep your lawn at a manageable height. Trim the grass to around 2.5–4 cm (1–1.5 inches) to prevent it from becoming too long, which can invite pests and diseases. However, avoid cutting it too short, as this can stress the grass during the winter.
Aerating your lawn in November is also beneficial. Aerating involves perforating the soil with small holes to improve air circulation and nutrient absorption. You can use a garden fork or rent an aerator for larger lawns. Aerating helps water and nutrients penetrate the soil more effectively, promoting healthy root growth.
Don’t forget to give your lawn a hearty meal before winter sets in. Autumn is the ideal time for lawn feeding. Choose a high-quality autumn lawn fertiliser and apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Autumn fertilisers typically contain a balanced blend of nutrients, with an emphasis on potassium and phosphorus, which promote strong root development and disease resistance.
Feeding your lawn in November provides several advantages. It encourages grass to store essential nutrients and energy in the roots, helping it withstand the rigours of winter. Additionally, a well-fed lawn in autumn often greens up more quickly in the spring, giving you a lush, healthy lawn when warmer weather returns.
Planting Tips for a Colourful Spring Garden
November is the perfect time to sow the seeds of spring. Spring bulbs are a true gift to the gardener, offering bursts of colour and fragrance just when the garden emerges from its winter slumber. Here are some bulb varieties ideally suited for planting in November:
Tulips: These iconic spring blooms come in a vast array of colours and shapes, from classic single-flowered varieties to exotic parrot tulips. Plant a mix of early, mid, and late-season tulips for a continuous display.
Daffodils (Narcissus): Daffodils bring sunny, golden hues to your garden. Their cheerful blossoms are often the first sign of spring’s arrival. Choose from the classic yellow trumpets to the delicate white varieties.
Crocuses: These petite flowers burst forth in shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white. They’re among the earliest spring bloomers and are perfect for naturalising lawns or planting in drifts.
Snowdrops (Galanthus): Snowdrops are delicate and enchanting with their pure white, drooping blooms. They often emerge while snow is still on the ground, a symbol of hope and renewal.
Alliums: These globe-shaped blooms add a touch of whimsy to the garden. They come in various sizes, from small orbs to impressive, tennis ball-sized blossoms.
Planting spring bulbs in November is like planting a promise of beauty. Here’s how to ensure a stunning spring garden:
Choose the right location: Select a well-draining, sunny, or partially shaded spot for your bulbs. Most spring bulbs prefer full sun or dappled shade.
Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is loose and enriched with organic matter. Bulbs thrive in soil that’s not too wet; good drainage is essential.
Plant at the Right Depth: A general rule of thumb is to plant bulbs at a depth that’s about three times their size. For smaller bulbs like crocuses, this might be around 7.5 cm (3 inches), while larger tulip bulbs may need to go as deep as 15 cm (6 inches).
Spacing: Space your bulbs according to the recommended distance on the packaging. This helps prevent overcrowding as they grow.
Planting Techniques: You can plant bulbs individually using a trowel or dig a larger hole to plant multiple bulbs together for a more dramatic effect.
Consider Layering: For a spectacular display, consider planting bulbs in layers. Place the largest bulbs at the deepest level, then the medium-sized ones, and finally the smallest bulbs on top. This creates a stunning multi-tiered display as they bloom at different times.
So, don’t let the shorter days and cooler temperatures deter you. Get out into your garden, relish the brisk air, and let your green thumb flourish. By tending to these November gardening tasks, you’re not only safeguarding your garden’s health but also sowing the seeds of beauty and abundance for the seasons ahead.
And as you prepare your garden for winter’s embrace, remember that fallen leaves aren’t just a chore; they’re a valuable resource for composting. Visit our range of composters to discover how you can turn those autumn leaves into nutrient-rich gold for your garden. With a little effort and a lot of passion, your garden will thrive all year-round.