November may be cold, but if you want to get ahead for next year it’s an ideal time to plant new bare-rooted plants, lift and move deciduous shrubs and trees while dormant and protect your vegetables, ponds and vulnerable plants from the worst of the winter weather.
Make the most of crisp, clear days to enjoy frosty grasses, late berries and coloured stems and do all the final jobs before the festive season arrives…
Plant bare-rooted shrubs and roses while the soil is still soft enough to dig but the plants are dormant. The soil conditions will encourage new rooting. You can also dig up and replant overgrown or badly placed deciduous woody plants if they need moving
Create a new hedge, digging a trench and planting deciduous hedging plants including beech, hawthorn, field maple and hornbeam.
If you have planted a new tree, make sure you stake it well with a 1m (3ft) stake, which should be enough to hold the base of the tree and prevent the roots being rocked loose in high winds. If you are planting a tree grown on very dwarfing rootstocks, such as fruit trees or ornamental crab apple, you’ll need a more substantial permanent stake
Parsnips taste better after a touch of frost, but if you don’t want to be battling the elements to get them out of the ground, lift them now and store them in boxes of sand to keep them disease-free through the winter
Cauliflower curds can be damaged by severe frost so protect them by wrapping the leaves around the central curd and then securing them with string.
Finish off netting brassicas to stop pigeons damaging the crops. Use traditional netting secured at ground level so that birds don’t get caught up in it.
Plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes, incorporating plenty of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted farmyard manure into the planting hole
Plant summer-fruiting raspberry canes by digging a trench, working in some compost as you go. Erect a 2m (6ft) high fence post every 2m along the trench and stretch three horizontal wires between them at equal distances apart, so you have a line of wire which will support the plants. Plant the canes in a straight line in front of the wire, about 45cm apart.
Plant blackcurrant bushes into a hole with plenty of added organic matter, setting the plant low in the hole, with 8-10cm of stem below ground level, to encourage new growth from the base of the plant
Regularly check your harvested apples and pears which you are storing. Remove any rotten specimens before they spread to the rest of the crop.
Lift and store dahlias once they have finished flowering and the foliage has turned black after a hard frost. Cut the plants down to around 15cm and dig up the tubers, shaking off the worst of the soil, then wash them clean and turn them upside down to allow the sap to drain from the stem. Let them dry outside or in a shed or garage, then store them in stacking trays with plenty of air holes in the sides for circulation
November is the perfect time for planting tulips, but if your soil is wet and heavy you’ll be better off planting them in containers of very well-drained soil adding a handful of grit at the bottom of the pot and standing them on feet to allow free drainage.
Cut down late-flowering perennials including helenium, Michaelmas daisies and perennial helianthus to around 10cm from the ground. You can then dig them up and divide them, which will not only increase your stock but should make the less dense clumps perform better next year
Protect young and tender plants such as so-called hardy fuschias with a deep mulch of straw in cold areas
If you want hippeastrums (amaryllis) in flower this Christmas, start them into growth early this month, potting them up and watering the bulbs, placing them in a warm spot to give them a head start.
General winter protection
Insulate pots housing permanent plants if they are too large to bring inside. Otherwise the roots of the plants could suffer frost damage. Wrap the pots in Hessian sacking or bubble wrap and tie up the leaves of plants like cordylines to protect the growing tips from winter wet
Remove pumps and lights from ponds, clean pond filters and dry them off before storing.
Check fence posts are secure and if not, mend them or replace them before winter gales come. Ensure garden gates, shed and greenhouse doors are kept shut and have sound latches before they blow open and come off their hinges
Lag outdoor taps with insulation such as a bespoke tap-cosy or bubble wrap with gaffer tape or a plastic carrier bag tied around the lagging to stop it coming off.
Keep off the lawn if it is wet or frozen or your footprints will create a muddy trail which will set hard in summer
Keep raking up fallen leaves both from the lawn and from borders to stop pests from sheltering under debris
In a mild winter if the grass is still growing, give it a mow when the weather’s dry but don’t cut it too close. Lift your mower blades higher.