Editing your garden in the autumn

I’ve been binge-watching The Home Edit. It’s another home organization show, but with more containers and rainbow organisation, interior styling and editing as opposed to decluttering.

I love a bit of reorganizing inside the house and now in the garden too. I do a bit of ‘garden-editing’ and a bit of Marie Kondo-ing to. I like to ask whether my plants are happy and if they spark joy for me and for my soil.

I used to curse myself for putting shade plants in the sun and sun lovers in the shade. But no longer…because now I do The Garden Edit.

September and October are great times for moving plants as they are going into dormancy but the soil is still warm. You can also move in early spring as well.

What is a Garden Edit?

It basically means reviewing your garden and decluttering, de-crowding, selecting plants to move or mulch. It means asking some tough questions about your borders to see if you can make any improvements. The improvements can be aesthetic or organic.

Start with a Garden Audit

I like to go round the garden and ask these questions. In the last few years, is radically changed how I think about my planting.

  • What’s thriving and what’s dying?
  • What’s overcrowded?
  • What needs a companion or is being strangled by its neighbour?
  • What needs to be culled? It’s harsh, but better to make space for plants that will do well rather than ones clinging on for dear life.
  • Have you got clashing colours or need a colour contrast?
  • Do you need to add more pots, remove pots, update pots?
  • Is your climate changing? Do you need more drought resistant, damp tolerant plants?
  • Do you need to boost your biodiversity of plants to improve your soil health?
I’ve got blue-purple lupins next to warm purples that I just don’t like and they are crowding out my roses so they’ll be moved.

In my garden, editing means moving the leggy Astors and Penstemons that suffered from a lack of light under a maple. Also taking out a hydrangea that hasn’t flowered in the last 5-years.

I like being brutally honest about my planting decisions and making the cut…or a move.

Seeing a plant I’ve moved much happier in its new home makes me so happy. I often find myself checking on my moved, healthy plants several times a day. Their health makes gives me joy. I stroke the leaves and say…I did that.

These sage plants used to be miserable in a pot until I liberated them into this new border. They are super happy now.

Now is the great time to move shrubs and perennials around the garden.

Top tips for editing your garden

Take a photo of your garden during the seasons

This is especially if important in spring so you can tell where you’ve planted your bulbs.

Take a photo of your garden in black and white

This is great for seeing what the bones of your beds are. Do you have too much small foliage? No repetition, too much repetition?

Tag plants for moving

With my herbaceous perennial, I always forget where a plant is until it pops up. This year I’ve tagged them and popped markers in the ground of things I want to move

Don’t be afraid to move

Your plants are not as delicate as you think. They are born survivors. Just make sure that they move to better conditions. Do they need better drainage? The. Add some grit. Do they need lots of food, then add some compost. And always add some mycorrhizal fungi to help them get established too.

Divide or take cuttings of your favourite plants

Taking cutting of pelargoniums, pestemons and salvias now is good to help increase your stock and as an insurance policy in case a heavy frost kills your other plants.

You can also easiliy divide grasses too.

Most summer flowering plants can be divided in the autumn.

Check out the RHS guide on dividing perennials here.

Right, I’m off to move some asters and penstemons that are definitely in the wrong place. Happy editing!

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