Outdoor Front Garden Ideas

5 rewarding gardening projects to tackle in autumn

Time spent in the garden now will pay dividends in winter.
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Autumn is one of the most relaxing and delightful times to be in the garden.

The mornings are pleasantly cool while the daytime sun has lost its summer sting making it the perfect time to also be working in the garden.

Horticulturalist Adam Woodhams shares five autumn gardening projects to tick off your checklist that will also give you every excuse to enjoy the great outdoors and improve your garden while you’re at it!

Coastal garden with green lawn
Almost every area of the garden can benefit from some TLC in autumn. (Credit: Photography & styling: Louise Roche) (Credit: Photography & styling: Louise Roche)

1. Relax outdoors and plan ahead

Here’s a project everyone can enjoy – relaxing and observing. Now is the ideal time of year to be chilling-out in your garden and thinking about the next project you may want to undertake.

Many of the garden projects that require a bit of hard work are best left for the cooler months meaning now is perfect for planning and working out budgets. 

Looking at a new lawn? Set it out now so that in late winter you can do the spade-work to lay it as soon as the weather warms up. Want to create the ultimate outdoor dining area? Start researching furniture, such as extendable outdoor dining tables and waterproof outdoor rugs, now.

Whatever your garden ambitions, now is the time to put pencil to paper and start turning them into reality for next spring.

Toy cavoodle sitting on bench outdoors
Spend time sitting outdoors like Bella the toy cavoodle, and make garden plans for the year ahead. (Credit: Photography: Alex Reinders | Styling: Sarah Elshaug)

2. Show your lawn some love

Don’t neglect your lawn in autumn! Lavishing a little TLC on a tired lawn will reap benefits well into winter and spring.

Apply a quality slow-release lawn food. This will allow your grass to top up its energy reserves after a long, hot summer and store some energy, improving its resilience, for the winter ahead.

If your lawn is looking a little patchy after the wear-and-tear of summer then grab your garden fork and open that soil up before raking over some clean, dry river sand. This will open the soil up, aerating it, improving air, water and nutrient movement.

Finally, make sure your lawn is getting maximum exposure to sunlight by raking up fallen leaves and pruning back unruly shrubs and tree branches.

Rear of coastal home with bi-fold doors opening onto lawn
Fertilising your lawn in autumn will keep it healthy during winter and spring. (Credit: Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

3. Plant spring-flowering bulbs

It’s not too late to add one of the single most spectacular spring displays you could ever wish for – spring flowering bulbs. You’ll find bulbs in virtually every flower colour in the rainbow in most garden retailers or online.

Some of the traditional, such as jonquils, daffodils and freesias, can be left alone post-flowering to naturalise in the garden, whereas others, such as tulips, will need lifting and storing in all but the coolest areas.

4. Plant trees and shrubs

Did you know that now is one of the best times to be planting many trees and shrubs? The air and soil are still warm enough to allow for development and establishment and soil stays moist with lower evaporation, reducing stress on new plants.

You may not notice much growth before winter but come spring autumn planted shrubs and trees will take off fantastically.

Autumn leaves in a Blue Mountains NSW garden
Desiduous trees always put on a show in autumn. Fallen leaves can be raked up and placed into the compost. (Credit: Image: Getty)

5. Start a compost heap

Autumn is a great time to be looking at establishing a compost heap.

At the simplest level a compost heap needs a combination of what’s often called ‘green and brown material’ – green, moist nitrogen-rich fresh material and brown, dry carbon-dense material – to function well.

All of those diced-up fallen leaves and lawn clippings from your lawn-mower catcher are an ideal starter for a compost heap. Come spring you should have a nice pile of rich, home-brewed material ready for adding to the veggie garden.

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