The days may be getting colder and wetter as we draw into November, but many trees are still putting out their lovely autumn displays, while winter stems start to come into their own. As autumn turns to winter, your main jobs in the garden will be about protecting plants from the wilder weather to come – but there’s still some sowing and growing you can do, to keep the garden ticking over.

Here’s a checklist of the top jobs to tackle in November:


Insulate your outdoor containers from frosts, using hessian or bubble wrap held in place with garden twine.

To prevent containers from becoming waterlogged, raise them off the ground for the winter using bricks or pot feet.

Encourage hungry birds into your garden by investing in bird baths and feeders. They will repay you by keeping garden pest numbers down, as well as bringing joy on a bleak winter’s day.

Protect roses from wind-rock by pruning them by one-third to a half of their height. This will stop them swaying in strong winds and prevent roots coming loose in the soil.

In the flower garden

Remove fallen leaves from around the base of any rose bushes which suffered from blackspot or rust this summer, to reduce the chance of reinfection next year.

Continue to lift dahlia tubers, gladiolus corms and begonia tubers to store dry over the winter months. Remove the dead foliage before storing.

Cut back the yellowing foliage of herbaceous perennial plants, and lift and divide overcrowded clumps to maintain their vigour.

Cut a few stems of holly with berries for making Christmas garlands. It might seem early, but now’s the time to do it before the birds eat all the berries. Stand them in a bucket of water in a sheltered spot where birds can’t find them.

In the vegetable garden

Lift parsnips after the first frosts, when their flavour will have sweetened.

Prepare a perennial vegetable bed to plant up with rhubarb plants and asparagus crowns.

Keep planting onion, shallot, and garlic sets. Dig over heavy soils adding organic matter before planting.

Place a scaffold plank on the ground along the main access route into your plot. This allows access but prevent the soil compacting as you walk across it.

Spread well rotted farm manure across the surface of your vegetable beds to rot down over winter.

Build a metal raised bed while the garden is clear to take the back-breaking bending out of vegetable growing.

Stake top-heavy brassica and leafy green plants. Draw up some soil around the base of their stem to prevent wind from rocking the plant and causing damage to the roots.

Check over your summer harvest of onions and garlic, removing any rotting bulbs immediately. The neck of the bulb is usually the first area to rot. Try using onion bags to improve air flow around the bulbs.

In the fruit garden

Divide mature clumps of rhubarb once they’re dormant.

Plant out currant plants as bare roots, while they’re in their dormant state.

Plant bare root raspberry plants now for a delicious home-grown crop.

Tidy up your strawberry plants, cutting off any dead leaves and removing runners.

You can prune apple and pear trees anytime between now and February.

Don’t prune plum trees now as they will be susceptible to the silver leaf fungus – wait until midsummer.

Apply grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees to prevent wingless female winter moths climbing the trunks and laying their eggs in the branches.

Remove the top netting from fruit cages as heavy snow in winter will make it sag.

Look to the lawn

Aerate your lawn now before winter sets in. Either use a lawn aerator or simply insert a garden fork at regular intervals and lean it back slightly to let air in.

Continue to clear fallen leaves off the lawn to keep it healthy using a light rake.

Set your lawn mower to a higher cut-height for winter.

Edge your lawn. This is easy to do in the winter months once beds are clear. Lawn edging creates a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier throughout the year.

In the greenhouse

Clean and maintain by replacing any damaged glass and cleaning the greenhouse thoroughly, washing the glass, floor, and staging with horticultural disinfectant to kill any overwintering pests and diseases.

Protect greenhouse plants from frost by insulating with sheets of bubble wrap attached to the inside of the frame. Remember to keep ventilating, particularly after watering.

Install solar lights in the greenhouse so you can still get out there on dark winter evenings to check your plants.

Be careful not to overwater plants as the winter approaches. Little and often is the key.

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke