October Garden Jobs

October is the month to finish up planting jobs and make the garden ready for winter. There’s lots to do in the garden now, and warm fall days are the time to do it.

Shrubs and trees planted now will get a good head start as the soil in October and November is still warm enough to encourage vigorous root growth and cooler daytime temperatures make it easier on the plants. When the cold weather does set in along with the rains, their roots will keep on growing and the plants will become well established. They will reward you next spring with a big show of new growth, and a greater tolerance for the summer heat.

This is prime time for planting spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Put some in containers so you can enjoy the flowers on your patio or by the front door.

If the plants in your outside containers have died, don’t put the pots on the shelf until spring– plant your favorite annuals and perennials for fall and winter. Pansies, snapdragons, primroses, stock and calendulas will give you the most color through the winter months.

Lawns should go in right away. If you wait for the rains to come, there won’t be enough heat to germinate the grass seed. Ground covers can go in as soon as possible. The winter rains will help them get established.

Start garden maintenance in October; rake up leaves frequently so they don’t have a chance to smother the lawn and provide a home for pests in flower beds. Remember that diseased or mildewed leaves should be discarded and not thrown into the compost pile. Their fungus spores will carry over into the next season and possibly cause problems elsewhere in the garden. If you take care of this on a regular basis it will save you from doing a major cleanup later.

Clean the beds of old flower stems and dead foliage, pulling weeds as you go. This is valuable not only from an aesthetic perspective, but also to reduce the potential for insects and diseases to be carried from one year to the next.

Build a compost pile with the fallen leaves and garden refuse, and you’ll have some rich humus to add to the soil next summer. Spread a new layer of mulch around tender plants and to protect bare ground from the driving rains.

October is a lovely time to garden, and your work will bring great rewards in the months to come.

  • Fall is for planting! Plant trees, shrubs, ground covers and bulbs now during the fall planting season.
  • Divide artichoke plants which have been in the ground for three or four years. Mulch established plants with steer manure.
  • Fragrant Paperwhite narcissus will bloom indoors by Thanksgiving if planted now in rocks and water.
  • Bearded iris should be planted right away to ensure flowers next spring.

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