Autumn rains! Be prepared in the garden (1)

First published by Rattan Direct on 5 October 2016.

Autumn rains and gales mean it makes sense to clear drainpipes and guttering. We want water directed into the drains and not coming into the house. It’s garden hygiene time: clear up leaves, moss and other bits and pieces, and clean out the water butt.

Silver birch, Conwy. Autumn rains
Silver birch, Conwy, October 2015
M K Stone

Autumn rains

Autumn rains have been upon us already. And they will be again. That’s nothing unusual as there are always strong gales and rains around the equinox (22 September 2016) as many a sea shanty will tell you.

Water can do a lot of damage in the wrong place so it’s clearly time to check all outside water pipes and fittings. And vegetation broken free from its moorings and resting out of place will rot over the next few months, and form a black sludge in the corner of your patio or at the bottom of your pond. Clean it up and out, and do the water butt too.

Clear the debris

By ‘the debris’ I mean things like:

  • Lumps of moss on the roof and in the gutters. (There are two schools of thought about composting moss. I am of the ‘do not do this at home’ school and I put it in the bin for the council to compost at high temperatures.)
  • Leaves and other bits and pieces in the garden which will harbour pests (like snail eggs, for example) and diseases through the winter unless you clear them up.
  • Creeping tendrils of Clematis montana, long gone from the neighbour’s garden but somehow still making an appearance in the gutters and under the slates.
Clematis at the Grange, near Heythrop, Oxfordshire. Autumn rains
Clematis at the Grange, near Heythrop, Oxfordshire
© Michael Dibb and licensed for reuse under CC BY-SA 2.0

Clean out your water butt

Autumn is the best time to clean out your water butt. Scrub it clean with soap and water, rinse and then refill it or let it refill from the downpipe. Make sure it has a light-proof cover which will suppress any green algae. Clean water is essential for seedlings (but less important for well established plants).

Clear debris out of your pond too. And put a net over it to stop leaves getting in.

Check gutters and downpipes

Check the gutters for any obstructions. Clumps of grass or young buddleia are possible culprits, along with leaves and moss which we talked about earlier.

Check whether the downpipes or their hoppers are clogged up.

Railway bridge, Penge High Street: vegetation growing in the hopper rainhead. Autumn rains
Railway bridge, Penge High Street: vegetation growing in the hopper rainhead
© Christopher Hilton and licensed for reuse under CC BY-SA 2.0

Check they haven’t come adrift from their fixings on the wall and that their joints are sound.

I know that, here, animals use the joint where one downpipe runs into another pipe as a stepping stone, and it regularly comes loose. After I finish writing this, I plan to wrestle the joint back into position, drill a hole and keep it together with a small screw.

It’s worth it

A few checks and a bit of work will pay off. Autumn rains can be heavy and persistent, as most of us have found out already this year.


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