Coal tit perched in tree in a garden, Co. Durham

September gardening tips

This is the month when summer suddenly seems to give way to autumn. Colours in the garden become more muted as seeds and fruit ripen and leaves take on the first hints of red and brown.

Encouraging wildlife in your garden

As nights become colder, birds and other wildlife can be seen preparing for the winter to come. Most of our summer visitors, such as the warblers and swallows, have left to begin their migration south. Resident birds become quieter and no longer fight over territories, returning to warm roosts each evening.

Although this is a time when gardeners traditionally start to clear up, if you want to encourage wildlife, you could adopt a more natural approach. Leaving seedheads, especially on plants such as teasels, thistles and sunflowers, and allowing vegetation to die back naturally, provides food and shelter for birds through the coldest months.

Try to keep weeding to a minimum, but dig out pernicious weeds such as ground elder. Pull out any others by hand although you could try leaving those with more attractive flowers, especially if they are tucked away between shrubs.

September is a good time for planning and creating borders. The end of the month is a good time to plant herbaceous perennials. The soil is still warm to encourage good root growth and there is usually enough rain to ensure plants don't dry out.

Although container grown plants can be planted at any time, autumn gives them plenty of time to establish before winter.