It's that time of year again. The shops can't decide whether to stock skeletons or Santas, the trees are shedding their leaves and there's a definite chill in the air. If you're lucky enough to have your own garden, that means it's time to get your garden ready for the colder weather.
Here, in association with landscaping experts Marshalls, are the top tips for getting your garden in tip-top shape now that summer's a rapidly receding memory.
1. Reach for your pressure washer
Power washing your paving or decking in anticipation of the wetter weather is well worth doing, especially if it's already displaying the tell-tale green tinge that means it's about to get seriously slippy, and the best pressure washers make it easy. Don't get carried away and spray from too close, though: that can damage your decking and paving or the cement between stones, and it tends to shoot a lot of dirt into your face too. Work from a more sensible distance and keep your angle shallow.
2. Get on the blower
This is going to be an ongoing chore for the next wee while: blowing or sweeping the leaves from your driveway, patio and other walkable bits is a necessary evil at this time of year if you'd rather not come a cropper by slipping on wet leaves. It can help prevent colourful leaves from leaving unwanted stains too. So check out the best leaf vacuums, blowers and sweepers on the market.
3. Put it away, put it away, put it away now
Autumn and Winter are not kind to garden furniture, with even the most weather-resistant furniture going a ghastly green and rust finding its way into even the toughest metal furniture. Ideally you want to move your garden furniture into a garage or dry shed, but if that's not possible then good quality covers or tarpaulins can help protect them from the worst of the elements.
4. Get mulching
Adding mulch or wood clippings to your garden beds can help protect your plants from the really cold weather, and it reduces the amount of soil washed away by heavy rain too. Want to create compost for this very job? Then take a look at T3's best compost bins buying guide for some top products.
5. Whack the weeds
Get your strimmer out (and if you haven't got one then buy one of the best strimmers available) and sort those edges before the weather gets too bad, and while you're at it get into any weeds – ideally without using strong chemicals. Hand weeders and weeding hoes are much more environmentally friendly but make sure you get the whole weed, not just the bits sticking out, or you'll be back again within weeks.
6. Get digging
Uprooting more delicate annual flowers is a bit of a pain, but it can help preserve them through the winter and it can seriously reduce the amount of work you need to do in your garden over the colder months. Marshalls recommends adding them to a compost pile to keep them happy and healthy. Need to upgrade your equipment for this task? Then check out T3's best garden tools buying guide.