Gardening: Tidy up will feed next year’s plans

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November is maintenance month in the garden ahead of winter. Clearing leaves and cutting back dead growth is the order of the day – which is great news because November is also all about compost, and leaves and garden debris are perfect ingredients.

Give the garden a good tidy up by removing any debris and cutting back all dead foliage and putting it in the compost bin. If your compost is ready to use, dig some into the soil in preparation for the coming months. You can also make your own leaf mulch by filling biodegradable sacks with leaves then placing them in a part of the garden where they can still get rain. Come spring you will have nutritious leaf mould compost. 
Winter can be a tough time for birds so keep supplies of food and water well topped up. Many small birds die of cold over the winter months. By putting out a little extra food you can really help them out, and get the added bonus of being able to enjoy watching them. Birds eat most types of nuts, seeds, fats and fruit but experiment with various feed to attract different types of birds. With just one £50 National Garden Gift Voucher you can have a bird-feeding station and food supply to see you through the winter, or to give as a gift to bird-loving friends and family. Hanging birdfeeders are also popular as they can be easily suspended from tree branches. 
Trees can be planted now before the ground gets too hard or frozen, and can be positioned in wet and dry land. They can tolerate acidic, chalky, sandy and clay soils and come in all shapes and sizes. From flowering cherries and crab apples to evergreen yews and weeping willows, trees offer different leaf size, shape and colour. Many have attractive flowers, fruits and seeds, and there are those that flower magnificently in spring and those whose leaves offer brilliant autumn colour. Trees can add structure to the landscape and garden and some make excellent hedges and screens. By planting trees you can reduce or improve your carbon footprint and generally enhance the environment.