Why gardeners need to add this important autumn date to their calendars

Make sure you pay attention to this 50-year weather prediction and heed this important autumn date

Wildflowers and sunflowers in an autumn garden border
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Gardeners are being urged to add a very important autumn date to their calendars – and, not to get all Alice In Wonderland's White Rabbit on you, but you won't want to be late doing so.

When it comes to choosing which garden ideas and garden trends we want to make a reality in our own backyards, we tend to be led by our hearts, rather than our heads.

However, it's time to stop learning how to take cuttings and the like (just for a little while, we promise!), and start thinking about the cold months ahead instead. 

An important autumn date for gardeners

We've just been hit by an unexpected heatwave, which means most of us have been googling how often we should water our gardens in hot weather rather than, y'know, prepping our gardens for winter. 

And that's all well and good – so long as we adhere to an important autumn date in the gardening calendar, that is.

Pretty garden, grass lawn, black arbour frame, bench seating, cushions. Home owned by Elaine Wallace,

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

That's right: through analysing 50-years of official Met Office weather data, Harbour Lifestyle, the luxury living brand, has exclusively revealed THE date that we need to complete our winter gardening prep by.

And, as you might expect, this all-important autumn date changes depending on which region of the UK you live in.

Check it out:

  • South East: 20th October
  • East Scotland: 21st October
  • North East: 2nd November
  • Northern Ireland: 24th October
  • North West & Wales: 24th October
  • South West & Wales: 18th December
  • Southern Scotland: 3rd October
  • Northern Scotland: 7th December

Three metal watering cans hanging from a wooden pole

(Image credit: Future PLC/Richard Gadsby)

So, what exactly should we have done in our gardens before these all-important autumn dates roll around?

Well, as it's all been devised around when the wettest weather hits, Victoria Jenkins (aka Harbour Living's merchandising coordinator) says it's all about future-proofing out outdoor spaces from the elements.

'Invest in high-quality outdoor furniture covers to shield your best garden furniture, BBQs, and other outdoor equipment,' she advises.

It's also an idea, adds Victoria, to 'make sure your gutters are free from leaves and other build-up, protect your hosepipe from freezing temperatures with a hosepipe cover, and give your roof a once-over to ensure there are no cracked or missing tiles that may cause a leak.'

Cosy garden ideas: garden chairs around a firepit and surrounded by fairylights

(Image credit: Tim Young/Future Publishing Ltd)

Finally, Victoria suggests embracing some cosy garden ideas that will help you nail the Nordic koselig trend.

'Combine floor lighting (such as chic solar lanterns) and wall lighting to create a layered effect which will illuminate your garden in even the darkest of storms,' she says.

She also advises 'investing in a pergola or outdoor cover', as well as sourcing one of the best fire pits or patio heaters to 'make your outdoor space a comfortable retreat even on the coldest day.'

Greenhouse interior, drying lavender, garlic bulbs, potting shed

(Image credit: Future Publishing Ltd/Polly Eltes Photography)

Of course, you don't necessarily need to splurge on an outdoor structure: instead, you can let your plants create a shelter for you.

'You can create a plant hug by positioning pots and raised beds/planters around a seating area to make a secluded space,' says award-winning garden designer Zoe Claymore

'Select containers so that planting is at eye height to give you a sense of seclusion and "cosiness". Be sure to choose some transportable garden lighting, too, and keep any chills at bay by investing in an outdoor blanket or two for you and your friends!'

The autumn gardening jobs to tackle this month:

'Autumn is the best time of year to plant many kinds of hardy plants in your garden – it’s a sweet spot when the soil is still warm so the new roots will develop quickly and get your new plants established,' says Morris Hankinson, the director of Hopes Grove Nurseries.

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.

'At the same time many plants will be starting to ‘shut down’ for the winter as the days get shorter – instead of concentrating on their leaves (photosynthesizing and growing new ones), they will re-focus on the root system.'

With this in mind, Morris advises you tackle the following gardening jobs before winter takes hold:

  • Sow the seeds of hardy annuals now to get plants established before the winter, this will give you a show of flowers extra early next spring. Some of the best to try include Cornflowers, Love-in-a-mist, Larkspur, Annual Poppies and Pot Marigolds.
  • Plant out biennial bedding plants such as Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, Forget Me Nots and Bellis into their final positions.
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of hardy perennials as they finish flowering.
  • Collect the seeds to give fresh supplies of your favourite plants next year.
  • Trim evergreen and conifer hedges while the weather is still mild.
  • Start to plant some spring bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, fritillaries and hyacinths in beds and containers. (Wait until late autumn to plant tulips)
  • If you are planning to re-arrange your garden, this is one of the best times to attempt moving established trees and shrubs to a new area. 
  • Plant potted trees, conifers, hedges and shrubs in September and October.
  • Plant evergreens (including root ball hedging plants) during October and November.

That's given us plenty to mull over (and get to work on!) as we count down the days to that important autumn date in our gardening calendars, quite frankly.

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.