Autumn Gardening – Getting Started


You might have noticed that the latest catalogues are presently full of garden tools, seeds, bulbs and the like. This is because autumn is a very busy season in the life of a gardener, no matter their aptitude, that sets up the beauty of a spring garden in bloom.

Autumn provides cooler weather in which working in the garden is much more comfortable.

Below are a list of ways you can get your garden started:


Potted plants

If you haven’t undertaken much gardening before start simply. Purchase a couple of pots, a bag of potting soil and a few packets of bulbs (as opposed to seeds). Bulbs are very low maintenance and when it comes to success rates they are easily win over their seeds counterparts.

My children and I tried the seed option a few years back. Because you plant seeds in shallow holes near to the surface of your pots they become more susceptible to young children who dig up their gardens to ‘help the flowers grow’. Thankfully, in addition to the seeds we had planted a couple of jonquil bulbs in each pot so at least there was something that survived and even bloomed.

There are lots of bulbs around from your more popular jonquils and daffodils, a favourite of mine are tulips which look beautiful planted and as cut flowers in a vase.

Garden plants

Bulbs are still a good option here but if you’d prefer something different seedlings are your best option. Punnets of herbs and a variety of vegetables are available at this time of year. As long as you take into account your usual climate and the placement of your garden bed your seedlings should be successful. Mint, lettuce, tomato, pumpkin and zucchinis or cucumbers are generally easy to grow. However mint, pumpkin, zucchini and cucumber plants grow to enormous proportions and will take up a lot of room on your garden, crowding out other plants. Strawberries and watermelons are other options and they too are crowders!

If you’d prefer flowers there are generally a number of options at your local nursery. If you have space near a trellis sweet peas are a lovely option. The time to plant them from seeds is now, otherwise seedlings will soon be available from nurseries. These reseed, that is they will die off and grow again in the same spot next year as mine have done this year! You will need to weave them through your trellis regularly as they grow to over one metre high and need to be supported.

Plants like geraniums and agapanthus are a good cheap option too. Every second garden has them and they regenerate so you can take a geranium cutting, or a clump of agapanthus, and add them to your garden with little effort. Okay, separating the clump of agapanthus can take a little work but once that’s done they’re easy to plant and very hardy. Geranium are susceptible to frost though so they will need to be in a more protected area but they can handle the sun so a partially shaded sunny area is best. They also do well in pots on a verandah.

Water wise, drought tolerant natives are a great option for a no fuss garden. They generally look after themselves and there are some pretty natives out there that will add a boost of colour to your garden.

New garden beds

If you’re after more of a garden rather than potted plants the easiest way to start is to purchase a DIY garden edging, or planter box. These are generally easy to assemble and sit on top of the grass. Put in desired spot and lay the bottom with newspaper then wet it down. The newspaper will help prevent any weeds. Then you can fill your garden edging with soil and get planting.

Old garden beds

Established garden beds still need a little bit of work before you get straight into planting. Weeding is the best way to start, even if it is something of a chore. You can do this by hand or you could purchase a product like Roundup and target weeds that way. With any chemical weeding you need to be careful not to get it on the plants you want to keep or they could become an unintended casualty.

Then dig over the garden bed and at this point it wouldn’t hurt to dig in a little more new soil or some manure to provide more nutrients.

Now you can plant and following your planting don’t forget to pop on your desired mulch.


All gardens need mulch and what you choose is up to you. I tend to use straw or hay because my hubby works in an agricultural supply shop so he just brings them home in the work ute for me. My mother swears by sugar cane mulch for her vegie garden and my grandmother who is a real green thumb uses straw and manure for her garden.

You should put mulch on your garden after planting and then you can top this up every three months or so as needed.


I generally use Seasol type products for my garden as you can spray them on diluted and they tend to last for quite a while. There are however, so many options, so you can chose a fertiliser that you prefer. Depending on what new plants I have added I might purchse a particular rose or camellia fertiliser but for your run of the mill plants a generic fertiliser will be more than adequate.

Winter roses

Don’t go planting any roses now. If you do decide that you want roses keep them in the pots you purchased them in until winter. Otherwise wait until winter to purchase them. July is generally the best time to prune and plant or transplant roses because they are dormant then and you can’t do any damage. Do not plant them where other roses have been planted previously, this is to prevent disease, unless you have dug over and replaced the soil first.

Roses are however, a bit needy after the transplanting process so after you have replanted them you will need to give them some rose feed (there are numerous products on the market for this) and then every 3-4 weeks for a little while just to help them on their way. Continue this as they start to produce new foliage and you will be rewarded with more blooms in spring!


Getting the hang of gardening takes time, practice and learn from experience. Also it’s a great activity to share with your children. Besides, they love digging holes so why not let them help out too?


Filed Under: GardeningHomemaking

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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