By attending to these tasks in October, you’ll not only ensure a tidy garden but also set the stage for a successful and vibrant garden in the coming spring.
Flower Beds, Trees, and Shrubs:
- Remove spent annuals and clear away dead plant material. Trim back perennials that have finished flowering.
- October is an ideal time for planting spring-blooming bulbs like tulips, daffodils, and crocuses. Ensure the planting depth is appropriate for each type of bulb.
- Plant new trees and shrubs early in the month. Mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to conserve moisture and insulate against winter cold. Water newly planted trees thoroughly.
- Continue to prune dead or diseased branches. However, avoid heavy pruning as plants enter dormancy.
- Apply a fresh layer of mulch around trees and shrubs to protect their root systems during winter. Maintain a consistent layer of mulch in flower beds.
- Wrap the trunks of young trees with tree guards to prevent damage from rodents during the winter months.
- Harvest remaining vegetables and herbs before the first frost. Some vegetables, like kale and Brussels sprouts, actually improve in flavor after a light frost. Plant seeds or transplants of cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, onions, spinach, and turnips.
- Plant herbs this month. Try dill, oregano, sage, and fennel.
- Set strawberry plants this month in a garden bed or container. Water well
- Consider planting cover crops like clover or winter rye in empty vegetable beds. These cover crops help prevent soil erosion and add nutrients when turned into the soil in spring.
- Trim and preserve herbs for winter use. Consider drying herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage.
- Consider aerating the lawn to improve soil aeration and enhance grass root growth.
- If your lawn has thin or bare patches, overseed with cool-season grass varieties suitable for your region.
- Continue mowing and watering your lawn until it stops growing. Avoid fertilizing the lawn, as this could encourage tender growth that might be damaged during the winter.
- Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn to control winter weeds. Apply when nighttime temperatures are 55 to 60 degrees for 4 to 5 days.
- If your lawn is losing color, try over-seeding with annual ryegrass when temperatures are in the low 70s.
General Garden Chores:
- Clean and properly store garden tools. Sharpen blades and oil moving parts to ensure they are ready for spring.
- Clean and refill bird feeders. Birds provide natural pest control and add to the garden’s biodiversity.
- Use this time to reflect on the current gardening season. Make notes about what worked well and what could be improved. Begin planning for next year’s garden layout, considering crop rotation and new plant varieties.
- If you have any tropical or subtropical container plants, move them indoors when the temperature drops to the 40s.
- Inspect plants for signs of diseases or pests. Treat if necessary, and remove and dispose of severely affected plants to prevent overwintering of diseases.
- Add fallen leaves and healthy plant material to the compost pile. Turn the compost to facilitate decomposition.