To Do: September

September is not only the start of the academic year; there are good reasons to think of it as the start of your gardening year, too.

Your summer blooms are likely to be dying off, and with the days getting shorter, it's time to start thinking ahead to prepare your garden for the winter and the spring that follows.

In Scunthorpe on September 1st, the sun sets at 7:52pm, giving you 13 hours and 41 minutes of daylight. On September 30th, it sets at 6:41pm, giving just 11 hours and 39 minutes of daylight.

That makes every minute count - especially as, with autumn setting in, you can't guarantee that those hours of daylight will deliver the kind of conditions you need to get outdoors and do some work in your garden.


Here are some of the basic tasks you might want to add to your to-do list - but with no more bank holidays until Christmas, make the most of your evenings and weekends, while the daylight lasts.

Plants and Flowers

Your planting tasks will depend on what you have in your garden - and at this time of year, fallen leaves are the obvious main task.

Sweep or pick them up to avoid having them turn into mulch all over your paths and paving; it's a simple enough job if you do it promptly, but will get gradually harder if the leaves get wet and begin to rot.

Clear dead and dying vegetation, and retrieve any seeds that you want to keep for the following spring - these should be kept dry to avoid them rotting while they are stored, and put away in a safe place until next year.

Fences

Check wooden fenceposts for signs of rot; if they're significantly weakened now, they're unlikely to make it through the winter in one piece, and it's easier to replace them when you're not trying to dig postholes into frozen earth.

Replacing wooden posts with concrete fenceposts gives you a more durable alternative that should withstand even strong winds and rain, while concrete gravel boards raise the bottom of the panel away from the wet ground, helping to prevent it from rotting too.

Paths

Again, keep paths clear of leaves to prevent them from becoming slippery in wet conditions; clear paths are usually OK to treat with grit or salt when the cold sets in, to make sure they do not become icy.

You shouldn't need to worry about gritting until the winter arrives, but making sure your paths are clear and in good condition now is a good way to prepare them, and reduce the amount of work you have to do on the shortest, coldest days of the year.

With vegetation and foliage trimmed back, it's the perfect time to check that your paths are still level and free from broken slabs or stones; depending on how the path was originally laid, you may be able to lift the stones, level the ground and re-lay them.

Patios and Paving

Finally, give some attention to any areas of paving - whether they consist of patio slabs or block paving - and, like your paths, make sure they are clear of fallen vegetation and leaves to avoid underfoot mud and mulch later in the season.


It's also a good time to check any decking in your garden - just like with wooden fenceposts, if there are signs of rot, you should think about proactively replacing the timber with new wood, or paving the area instead.

Decking that has become mossy can be very slippery in wet conditions, and when it ices over in winter, so be aware of the risks, and take action now while the weather is favourable.

Planning Ahead

September is when the year really begins to turn, but it's a month that gives you its fair share of late-season sun too, so don't waste the chances you get to make some progress in your garden.

Looking ahead to October, it's going to get darker and colder - but that's no reason to feel down, as a well-kept garden with a conservatory, patio heater or fire pit will give you a way to enjoy the outdoors all year round. More about that next month...