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It's autumn clear-up time25 October 2013
It's autumn clear-up time and your chance to put your garden to bed so it can slowly subside into its winter slumber. After the full-on party-time of summer, it's a chance to have a good sweep through, pick up all the rubbish and evict any unwanted pests before they make themselves too comfortable. Prepare your garden well for winter and it'll wake up in spring in perfect health ready to do it all again next year. Here's what to do:
Remove spent foliage and flowers, though leave borderline-hardy plants like penstemons and salvias untouched as dead stems help protect from frost.
Edit winter seedheads, removing any which have collapsed but leaving structural winter beauties like Calamagrostis flowerheads and Phlomis russeliana stems to catch the frost.
Fork over borders lightly to remove lingering weeds and expose the eggs and larvae of pests to predators.
Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of perennials like achillea, astrantia and crocosmia to keep them growing vigorously.
Clear autumn leaves from the crowns of perennials to avoid them rotting, either leaving them on the soil's surface as mulch or stacking them in a bin to make leafmould
Mulch with well-rotted farmyard manure to keep the soil's moisture in and protect the roots from freezing over winter.