The Tree Shop's Autumn Cheat Sheet
Autumn, the start of a new gardening cycle, is the most pleasant time to be out working on your garden. Decluttering and preparing for a healthy, thriving winter garden are essential Autumnal traits, and laying groundwork for the cooler months will save you masses of time during the eventual emergence into Spring.
It isn’t just a time for fixing and grooming however. Autumn is a great season to be planting the correct trees - the days are not yet short, the soil is still warm enough to stimulate root growth and the Autumn rains will secure much-needed hydration, all giving the tree a head start before the winter months. Below, The Tree Shop’s experts run through their top tips for Autumn and the best trees to plant.
Prune old foliage:
Pruning old foliage, often the remnants from beautiful summer displays, is a great way to keep your garden looking sleek and orderly in Autumn. More than this, though, it helps channel the plant’s energy into growth and helps build up a store of energy for the coming winter.
Pruning is a useful Autumn tool, however it depends completely on which kind of tree you are caring for. You should always research care tips specifically for your species of tree before you begin to prune.
Autumn is the best time for transplanting because trees and plants encounter less transplant shock because of the cooler days and leftover soil warmth from summer. A lot can happen in one summer, and if plants are moved, damaged or ill, it can often expose plants it was furnishing with shade to direct sunlight. Try to visualise your garden’s growth over the coming months and work out whether any strategic placements are needed.
- Fertilise your lawn – After the last few months of harsh Melbourne summer, your lawn will be in need of some nutrients. Fertilize well with a suitable lawn fertilizer and correct yellowing and patchy grass with a light seed mix such as “patchmaster”
- Prune & fertilize established trees, including fruit trees – Remove dead or dying branches and remove top growth of fruit trees to promote new growth in the coming months, with a more “productive” shape
- Plant bulbs – For an awesome display of colour in the cooler months that will return year after year
- Plant winter veggie crop – Think soups and stews. All the root vegetables perfect for roasting and brassicas for soups. (potatoes, carrots, parsnip, garlic, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower ect) Always use crop rotation and companion planting methods for best results. Don’t forget to mulch with a straw based mulch (lucern/pea straw/sugar cane mulch) and fertilise with an organic vegetable fertilser
- Set up water tanks (they don’t have to be huge!) to collect the extremely important natural resource of abundant rainwater we can expect over the coming months
Autumn is arguably the most exciting time for trees. Green leaves containing chlorophyll produce the tree’s energy via photosynthesis. Winter comes and the trees absorb this energy from their leaves and they start to lose their green chlorophyll, providing vivid and unique displays of earthy reds, oranges and yellows. The leaves eventually drop off and help to compost and mulch the ground.
Below are The Tree Shop’s top recommendations about which trees to plant now to ensure a beautiful and healthy Autumn garden.
Japanese Maples are our favourite Autumn tree. They’re small, compact and prized amongst gardeners for providing stunning autumn displays with deep orange and crimson foliage. These slow-growing, pint-sized trees offer a customised display each Autumn, with the vibrance of red on show corresponding to the weather patterns. During warm autumns the foliage will be fainter, whilst the deepest colours come during crisp, intense seasons.
Japanese Maples come in hugely popular weeping varieties. Usually used as a feature tree, they thrive in rockeries or large pots.
Our Weeping Maples have deep red new growth that fades to bronze/ burgundy and then green in summer. In autumn it will show bright orange tones. It enjoys shaded, protected areas.
Plant selection is even more important than usual in this season. Although Citrus are sub-tropical fruits, choosing early-ripening varieties in Melbourne’s more temperate climate means they can thrive when planted in Autumn.
The Tree Shop’s early-ripening Imperial Mandarin is an ideal citrus tree to plant at the moment.
Planting the species in a large pot for use as a feature on a patio is a sure-bet for some fall personality. Remember to add crock to the bottom so drainage holes aren’t blocked by roots, and remove any fruit from the tree for the first couple of years. This will help encourage the tree to channel its energy into growth. Here are some tips from Margaret and Sal about planting citrus:
- Test soil pH before doing anything. Citrus, unsurprisingly, prefer acidic soils of around PH 5.8.
- Mix a capful of seaweed solution into a bucket of water and soak the root-ball for a few minutes. This helps to prevent transplant shock.
- Place compost in the bottom of the hole. This will enhance soil structure and increase moisture retention.
- Add compost to the soil and fill around the edges.
- Water well and mulch.
- Fertilise in early spring to give the plant a great boost of nutrients and ensure a bumper crop.