Subscribe to our Free Newsletter and get the latest from Sun Gardening:
Looking for ideas for what to do in the garden in September? Well, look no further as we have compiled a list of garden jobs to keep you busy throughout the month.
A little care and attention before the onset of winter will help the grass survive the cold and wet weather better, so that you can enjoy it again next spring.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Spring-tined Rake, Fork, Grass Seed.
Scarify the lawn using a spring-tined rake to remove thatch (dead grass) and moss. As long as no chemicals have been applied to the lawn, this can be added to your compost bin.
If you find that this creates bare patches, apply grass seed if the temperature is warm enough. If you are working late in the season, this will have to wait until spring.
Aerating the lawn by driving the tines of a garden fork into the grass to their full depth allows air to the roots and also aids drainage. If you have had a problem with water-logging, you can brush fine sand into these holes to speed drainage in future.
If one part of the lawn is used more than the rest, you may find that soil compaction is making the grass pale and weak. Lifting the area by pushing a fork into the grass at an angle and rocking back on it to lift the turf will allow air to the roots and help them recover.
There is nothing more frustrating than losing a crop to birds after all the time and hard work you have invested in it. They seem to know when fruit is ready before anyone else, so it is worth taking precautions against attack.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Netting, Pop-up Cover, Chicken Wire, CDs
A roll of netting is vital if you realise a crop is in danger. Simply lay it over the plants and secure it in place with clothes pegs.
For a single plant or a short row, a pop-up cover is ideal. These fold flat and pack away when not in use.
For a larger area, it is worth using chicken wire and canes to construct a cage with netting over the top.
Old CDs are useful to scare birds as the sun catches them and they shine. Birds are always alert to attack as they feed, so anything that disturbs them can be used to protect your plants.
When it comes to stunning colour and flower size in the summer, Dahlias perform brilliantly. With a little care and attention, you can have blooms that will be the envy of your neighbours.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pot, Straw, Cane, Secateurs
Earwigs love Dahlias and will feast on the flowers, leaving notches in the petals and mess everywhere. They feed at night and hide during the day, making them hard to remove. Create a trap by filling a pot with dry straw…
…and placing it upside down on the top of a cane right next to the plant. The earwigs will hide in the straw and you can simply empty the pot each day to get rid of them.
If you want really big blooms, remove competing flower buds from nearby on the same stem.
Remove flowers as they fade. This stops the plant setting seed, which will reduce flowering, and reduces the risk of grey mould as the petals rot.
Apples picked fresh from the garden taste delicious and are packed with goodness, but if the crop is too big for you to use as it ripens, you may need to look at storing some of it to use later. Some apples stores better than others and you should check the storage life of your particular variety for guidance.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Box, Paper
The better condition the apple is in, the better it will store so take care to remove rings that might bruise the fruit as you pick it and handle it carefully. Twist or lift gently to release the apple, as pulling can break the branch off, too. If it won’t come easily, it may not be ripe.
Transport the fruit carefully. Any bruising that occurs now can begin to rot in storage and may affect the whole batch.
Wrap each apple in paper to isolate them from each other and prevent damage if they knock together. Pack them into a wooden box so there is air-flow around the fruit.
Do not put damaged fruit into storage, use it straight away. Place the box of apples in a cool, dark spot, such as a shed or garage. Check regularly for rotting and remove the affected apples to prevent it spreading.
Perennial sweet peas are rambling plants that are ideal for growing over a hedge, through other plants or up into a tree. They produce delicate blooms of red, pink or white all summer and up until the frosts of winter kill the plant down to ground level. They will seed prolifically, so removing the seed pods is a good way to prevent spreading and it also makes sure the plant continues to flower.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Paper bag, Paper envelopes, Airtight container, Pen
To save seed for future use or sharing with friends, collect the seed heads as the pods begin to turn brown. Either lay them on paper in a seed tray or put them into a paper bag. Seed release can be explosive, so the bag will make sure none are lost.
Put the bag somewhere dry and away from the sun until the seeds are all released. This should take a few days.
Separate out any pale, unripe seeds. These are not dry enough to put into storage with the rest. You can ripen them in a saucer on a sunny windowsill if the seed numbers are low, but otherwise discard them.
Store in paper envelopes in an airtight container and place this in a cool, dark, frost-free spot until you are ready to use them. Clearly label the pack with the name of the seed and the date they were collected.
Some types of lily form tiny embryo bulbs in the leaf axils on the stem as the season progresses. These may be shed naturally or spread as the stem collapses at the end of the season. If you wish to increase your collection or share the plants with friends, it is worth harvesting the bulbils to sow.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 1 out of 5 and you will need: Pots, Compost
The embryo bulbs grow where the leaf meets the stem (the axil). They look like tiny replicas of the parent bulb.
Harvest when the bulbil is ready. It will usually start off green and turn much darker as it matures. You may even see small roots at its base.
Plant the bulbils in a pot of fresh, sterile multipurpose compost. Water to settle the compost and stand in a sheltered spot or cold frame.
In the first year, the leaves will look completely different, as the bulbil matures. By the second year, the foliage looks much more like the parent plant. It may take 4-5 years for the bulbil to flower, depending on variety.
If you want to make your garden less work, then one place to start is by using weed-suppressing membrane over the borders. This fabric is porous, so water can pass down through it to plant roots, but is dense enough to stop weeds growing up.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Weed-suppressing membrane, knife, trowel, mulch
Ideally, this is best laid over a bare border before you start planting. Overlap the edges if you use more than one strip.
Cut an X with a sharp knife where you want to plant and peel back the flaps to dig the planting hole.
Position the plant and fill in the hole, firming the plant into place. Fold the flaps of fabric back over the soil around the plant.
Disguise the fabric (and help it last longer) with a deep layer of mulch, like bark or gravel. This also helps reduce moisture loss in summer. Leave a small saucer-shaped depression immediately around the plant stem so it cannot be damaged.
Laying turf to create a lawn gives an instant effect and laying it properly means it will be easier to look after for years to come. Seek out good quality turf, preferably from a specialist and choose a time when the weather is mild and the soil warm.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 3 out of 5 and you will need: Spade, rake, turf, board.
A good lawn is a long-term project, so start with a good base. Good drainage is essential, so dig over (if necessary) to loosen the soil, then rake to level it and remove stones. Add fertiliser and rake lightly into the soil.
Starting at the furthest point, unroll the turf and lay it along a straight edge. It should be green and healthy-looking, not yellow.
Lay brick-pattern, so the joints are staggered and press firmly so each roll is in good contact with the soil beneath.
Use a board to firm the grass and save damaging it or creating depressions. Work loose soil into the joints to help the turves knit together quickly. Water well after laying to stop the turf drying and shrinking.
Moth orchids (Phaelenopsis) vary slightly in their flowering habit. Some produce another batch of flower buds at the tip of the current flowering stem, while others produce side shoots from lower down the stem, especially if you cut the stem back. Occasionally, instead of flower buds, a miniature plant is produced, known as a Keiki (Hawaiian for baby).
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pot, orchid compost, plastic bag, rubber band.
If your plant does not produce more buds at the tip of the flowering shoot, trim it back to just above the top stem bud.
Instead of a flowering shoot, you may get a new plant forming, known as a Keiki.
Once this has grown roots, it can be removed from the parent plant. Take a short section of stem with it, as this helps anchor it into a pot of compost.
Pot it into moist orchid compost and cover with a plastic bag, held in place with a rubber band to keep it humid while it establishes. Within a few weeks, it should begin to grow and can be treated the same as other orchids.
On ornamental plants (not fruit) there are a few basic reasons why you should prune, best remembered as the 4 Ds: Dead, Dying, Damaged and Diseased. Next, remove crossing or rubbing branches, any that have reverted to green and for shape.
The difficulty rating for this garden job is 2 out of 5 and you will need: Secateurs, pruning saw
Dead wood is easiest to see and remove in summer. Cut back to healthy, pale-coloured wood.
Die-back is common after early pruning where a rogue frost can catch you out. Cut back to just above a healthy bud.
Larger dead stems should be removed with a pruning saw, working very carefully so you do not damage nearby shoots.
Green shoots on a variegated plant should be removed, as they contain more chlorophyll and are stronger. If left, they will take over and you will lose the variegation.
We hope these projects have given you a few ideas and a bit of inspiration for what to do in your garden this month.