The summer is coming to an end. Everyone has the back to school feeling. The garden, however, can still look stunning. These are a few tasks that I think are really important for September gardening.
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If you want your plants to carry on producing beautiful blooms (and why wouldn’t you?) then you need to keep dead-heading. Make sure that you look around the garden every couple of days and take off all the faded blooms. You need to cut them of neatly at a leaf or side-shoot. That will encourage the plant to produce more flowers and it will keep the plant looking tidy. Many plants will keep flowering until you have a frost.
If you have not cut your hedges yet then now is the time. Equally, if you did it earlier in the year but it still needs tidying up then now is the time. It is important to start by cutting the sides first, making sure that you taper the sides in at the top. This is called a batter and ensures that the leaves at the bottom get some light and stay healthy. Your nice, tidy hedges will be a pleasure to look at all winter.
Hopefully your lawn is recovering from the heat of the summer. Now is the time to give it some tender loving care. If your lawn needs it aerate it to allow improved drainage. You can also scarify it again (as you may have done in spring) to remove thatch. You can do this manually with a lawn rake or an electric scarifier. It is also a good idea to feed your lawn with an autumn fertiliser. This will strengthen the lawn for the winter. It is important not to use a summer fertiliser as it will be too high in nitrogen and cause weak growth.
Your lawn will still need mowing regularly but you should reduce the regularity and raise the blades so that you get a higher cut. This will help it if you get a dry spell and it will help it withstand being walked on during the winter.
Plant Spring Flowering Bulbs
Now is the time to be planning for next year and starting planting spring-flowering bulbs. September is a great time to plant daffodils, crocuses, muscari, etc. The sooner they are in the ground the sooner they will develop a root system. Hopefully this will result in better flowering. Check your packets for best planting times and depths as some bulbs must not be planted this early. For example, tulips should not be planted until October at the earliest.
Now is the best time to divide any perennials that need it. Perhaps they have got too large or perhaps you just want new plants (for free). Most perennials benefit from dividing every few years. Simply dig up the clump, divide it into the required number of plants (making sure each has a few shoots and plenty of roots). This may be done by hand or using a spade depending on the plant. Then simply plant the new plants in the required places and water them in well.
Sow Sweet Peas
September is a really good time to sow sweet peas, You can do it in a greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill. You need to give sweet peas a deep pot as they have a long taproot. It is best to plant them in deep plugs designed for the purpose or plant pots. Ordinary seed trays are not ideal. Once you have your seedlings all you need to do is keep them frost free over winter. I keep mine in an unheated greenhouse which is attached to my house so never gets frosted.
The benefit of sowing sweet peas at this time of year is that they develop a strong root system. This means that when you plant them out in April they flower earlier, more frequently and for longer.
There is a wide range of sweet pea seeds at Suttons.
If you have a pond now is the time to net it to prevent all the leaves from dropping into it. Before netting it I would always attend to the basic maintenance first. You should keep clearing out the blanket and duck weed and cut back any marginal plants that you think are getting overgrown. A maximum of 50% of the pond should be taken up with planting. Oxygenating plants should also be checked and thinned out if necessary.
A covering of netting will then prevent the pond from growing too much algae and weeds in the rotting leaves, reducing oxygen levels.
In summary, I think September is a lovely month in the garden. There are often some gorgeous days and they feel really precious because there will be so few of them now before winter. So, get out there and enjoy your September garden. It should still be warm enough for a quiet cup of tea out there. September gardening is pure joy (if the weather holds).
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If you like this article you should take a look at these other articles with tasks for various months to help you enjoy your garden:
So remember to let me know how you get on with your September gardening and if there are any tasks you think I should include in this list.