October in the garden

For the next couple of months it may seem that all you are doing is clearing up leaves, as quick as you can clear them, they have fallen again. It can feel like a never ending cycle, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a place surrounded by giant Chesnuts and Oaks but it is very important for the health of your autumn lawn. Leaving leaves where they fall will starve your lawn of light and can quickly cause the spread of fungal disease.

I always consider it to be good honest work and if you really put your back into it and whistle while you work, you can skip that session at the gym that you had planned. Here’s a little tip if you don’t have too many leaves to clear: Rake them on to the lawn and just cut the grass, let the mower do the picking up for you, a small amount of leaves can be added to your compost heap or bin in the normal way.

However, if you are gathering large quantities to save you endless trips to the tip, you could try making leafmould.

Great for top-dressing containers, rockeries and woodland plants, leafmould can even used as a top-dressing for container grown Rhododendrons and Camellias in Spring or as a mulch for perennials and it couldn’t be simpler to make.


Step 1

Place the damp leaves into black bin liners with a few air holes added using a garden fork.



Step 2

Tie the tops and stack the bags in a shady spot out of the way.





Step 3

Leave the bags until next autumn, by which time the leaves should have broken down to form rich, crumbly mulch. For a finer top-dressing leave longer. Take care when opening the bags and do not breath in any dust or spores from the compost.



Also this month:


  • Plant Tulip bulbs
  • Plant new perennials and climbers
  • Force bulbs for Christmas
  • Plant up some new autumn interest planters for the patio
  • When the first frosts have blackened the foliage of your dahlias trim them back to the base of the main stems and carefully dig up the tubers
  • Keep houseplants drier to slow down growth during the winter
  • Clear garden, burn any diseased debris and compost the rest
  • Take semi-ripe cuttings from shrubs and roses
  • Turfing
  • Cut back remaining perennials that have finished flowering

Sarah Whaley bring us up to speed with her business

Sarah has been running her Ed’s Garden Maintenance business since January 2007, taking on one of the early franchises and over the last few years has been successfully growing her business and providing services to both private and commercial clients.

‘Having initially come from an agricultural background in Zimbabwe, moving to the UK was always going to be challenging. I was incredibly blessed during my early years to be exposed to outstanding scenery, flora and fauna. My mother was a gardening guru, and from an early age my brothers and I were planting up hanging baskets for agricultural shows, and getting involved in all sorts of entrepreneurial forays. This inspired a keen interest in gardening, horticulture and the natural world, and I came to the UK to study a BSc (Hons) in Landscape and Garden Design at Writtle College in 2002, achieving a 2.1 degree and an award for the most improved student on my course.

Starting with Ed’s was a wonderful opportunity to break into a competitive industry and take control of my earnings. It also reduced the risk of starting on my own at a rather young and inexperienced 23 years old, whilst still giving me the flexibility to develop my own angle on the business and drive growth in the direction I wanted to go.

One of my initial concerns was about coping physically with what is a very demanding manual job. The job is all about having the right tools however, and we have been encouraged to invest in top of the range equipment which makes almost any job do-able, and gives me complete reliability for my regular maintenance customers. I have also been fortunate in having a great support network within the Ed’s team, and have taken on seasonal labourers during the summer months. Last summer I took on my first full time employee, and we now have two full time employees and a couple of part timers we can call on during the busiest spells. I have concentrated on expanding the business whilst still maintaining a personal relationship with my clients, and trying to provide the same level of service they have come to expect.

We are looking to expand this year and slowly grow a team of passionate and enthusiastic garden maintenance operatives who really care and continue to learn, and slowly we will expand our portfolio of regular customers ensuring that we deliver the best possible service individually tailored to our clients’ needs and budgets. Working with a positive team of people and passionate clients has all the ingredients of a rewarding work experience.

Happy customers make it all worthwhile, and my favourite part of this job is when a customer says to me “You’ve transformed my garden, I love it!” There’s no better incentive to keep on doing what we do.’