All too quickly our summer is gone, evenings are getting shorter and we're heading towards that least favoured of times - winter. But don't despair. Autumn is one of the busiest times in the gardening year and certainly there is no shortage of work for you to be getting on with.

In the business

You have until 30 September to send your tax return to the Inland Revenue, should you wish them to calculate your tax liability for you. Otherwise you must send your tax return and pay your tax due on or before 31 January.

If you're operating a gardening round or lawn-cutting service, and you are planning to close your business for the winter months, then September may well be your last month of trading. Whether or not you continue through October and November will depend on climatic conditions. My experience has been that regular clients are keen to have their gardens 'put to bed' by early October at the latest. Remember, too, that from now on the days will be getting shorter, which will result in you having less working hours available in your diary.

Services you can offer

  • Pre-season greenhouse service. Now is the time to have broken window panels, leaks and uncooperative doors sorted out before the bad weather begins.
  • Autumn garden clearance.
  • Leaf sweeping and removal service - this is a very popular service. Few people enjoy having to wade through and sweep up seemingly unending piles of leaves.
  • Planting time for new trees, shrubs.
  • Transplanting time for many evergreen shrubs.
  • Scarifying service. This involves removing dead grass, weeds and moss from the lawn's surface. Hiring a machine is usually more cost effective than purchasing one.
  • Aeration service, reducing compacting on the lawn which has occurred during the summer period. Generally achieved by using a garden fork, but depending on the surface area of the lawn you may find that you need to hire a machine. Don't be tempted to buy one.
  • Turfing. Ideal time to lay new turf.
  • Cut down and divide perennials.
  • Clean beds and borders of spent bedding plants and dig in some quality compost.
  • Garden ponds - cover with netting to prevent leaves from covering the water.
  • Seasonal pruning.
  • Give hedges a final tidy-up.

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