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The autumn garden how-to guide


Autumn is many people’s favourite season, with the falling leaves, clear, cooler skies and plethora of warm colours on the ground all juxtaposing beautifully.

For green-fingered homeowners and amateur gardeners alike, it represents a chance to transition an outdoor space to a new season, and to make the task easier, Dobbies Garden Centres has some useful tips and tricks.


Although spring may seem a long way away, now is actually the best time to start sowing the seeds. It is best to plant your bulbs as soon as possible after buying, as they have a limited shelf life and will not survive long after the planting date. The likes of hyacinths, snow drops, dwarf irises, daffodils, narcissus, tulips and crocuses are all bulbs that will look great when spring comes around. Check they are nice and firm, and then choose a spot that will get plenty of direct sun.

Give the soil a quick turning over to check it is free from weeds, then plant at a depth that is around three times as deep as the bulb is wide. Water well after planting then let the autumn and winter weather do its trick before reaping the benefits as they flower in spring.

Boosting colour

If you are an autumn fan - or even if you’re not - you can prevent your garden from going into hibernation by embracing the autumnal vibes. Try to experiment with the likes of berries and foliage, which can add a rich splash of colour. The benefit of these is that the colour will sustain with minimal upkeep, which will then ensure your patch continues to be eye-catching through the colder months.

Planning for Christmas

While Christmas may also seem very far away, it is actually the next bank holiday on the calendar, and so the preparation needs to start now, at least as far as flowering plants are concerned. Even if you haven’t planted the bulbs yet, don’t fear – it is possible to force certain flowers such as hyacinths and narcissus to bloom early so you can then display them indoors over the festive period.

For the best results, start early in October and choose prepared bulbs that have been specially treated. These are easy to grow in planters filled with compost and also in glass vases specifically designed for the job. Keep them well watered and in sunlight and you’ll see the results in a couple of months, making the perfect indoor festive decoration or gift for family or friends.

Protect the hedgehog

Although few people have hedgehogs as pets, chances are they will visit your garden on a regular basis, particularly in autumn when there are plenty of leaves to use as shelter. However, hedgehogs are actually at risk and so any steps you can take to safeguard them can help to ensure their survival. It is possible to buy special hedgehog food, but they are also partial to boiled eggs, so avoid throwing away any leftovers you may have after a cooked breakfast.

When it comes to their habitat, again it is possible to buy special hedgehog houses, but the best option is to keep a pile of logs and leaves that they can inhabit, as they like to keep things messy – as long as you don’t mind having a messy area of the garden, you may find a hedgehog family moves in sooner rather than later.

Conserving water

Although autumn may seem like a damp season, it can also give way to periods of dryness, and this can persist into winter when the water freezes, so conserving water where you can not only help the environment, but your garden as well.

Placing water-retaining gel in your containers, watering plants and shrubs more sparingly, and investing in a water butt are all practical and effective methods. Our infographic on conserving water also offers tips on saving this valuable natural resource and can further help you to prepare your garden for autumn as the nights begin to draw in.

Dobbies Garden Centres has a vast range of advice on planting and outdoor decoration and a range of products to help you. Find out more at


plant bulb