Make your own leaf mould for free
Rake up leaves and store in a simple leaf bin which you can make from chicken wire. Failing that heap them into black bin bags then prick holes in these with a fork to let in air and store out of sight. Leaves can take a year or two to properly break down before they can be used as a top dressing or mulch.
NB: Do not make leaf mould using diseased leaves, rose leaves - which often harbour diseases - or evergreen foliage, which takes a long time to break down.
Find out more about making leaf mould
Look after your lawn
Rake up leaves and tidy edges before winter. You can also use a rake to scarify the grass to remove as much thatch and moss as possible. This will help with drainage as well as improve the grass by bringing light and air to the roots. Come spring your lawn will thank you.
Find out more about autumn lawn care
Remove saucers to avoid pots sitting in freezing water which can lead to rot.
Stand pots on clay feet to improve drainage. You can buy these from garden centres or save money by using broken tiles or similar to raise the base off the pots off the ground.
Protect vulnerable containers and plants from the worst weather by putting them in the warmest spot out of the wind against the house wall. You can also bubblewrap pots to protect against frost. If you hate the sight of this cover the wrap with a layer of hessian (perhaps saved from an old potato sack) and tie in place with string.
Plant up some winter pots with winter pansies which will keep going till spring.
Try these ideas for winter containers
If roses look as though they might be rocked by strong winds prune out the whippy stems.
Clear away slimy rotting foliage but leave other stems standing to provide winter interest and somewhere for overwintering insects.
Use a soft rake to clear leaves that have fallen on the soil. These can be added to the leaf bin as long as they are healthy.
Congested clumps of perennials can be lifted and divided now or in the spring. If doing this now use two forks, placed back to back, to prize the clump apart and divide it into several pieces ensuring each has a healthy area of root from which to regrow. If the clumps are really tough you can saw them apart using a saw or old bread knife.
You can also plant tulips in borders, marking where you have planted so you don’t dig them up in a fit of New Year enthusiasm.
Once dahlias have been ruined by frost cut down stems to about five inches above grown and either lift and store the tubers over winter or mound them over with straw or mulch to protect them from frost.
Find out more about storing dahlias
Fruit and veg
Prune red and white currants and gooseberries.
Use netting to protect brassicas from pigeons.
Stake any tall growing Brussels sprouts to prevent them being rocked by winter winds.
Weed and dig over veg plots, adding in well rotted muck or organic matter.
Find out about the best winter vegetables to grow
Watch out for hibernating hedgehogs. Always check bonfires before lighting.
Find out more about how you can help hedgehogs
These should now be kept indoors or under glass in a light frost free place. It is important to continue feeding and watering as necessary using a proprietary Winter Citrus Feed. Only watering when the soil is dry. How often this is will depend on where the plants are being over wintered. Pick up and dispose of any fallen leaves.
Find out more about growing citrus trees