As the nights draw in, there is a significant drop in temperature and overnight frosts are more likely. However, we can expect some warm, sunny days too, which makes October a beautiful month of autumnal colour. The colder, blue-sky days are a perfect time to tidy up and cut back in the garden.
Routine Jobs Around the Garden
There are many gardening jobs to do in October, including clearing fallen leaves, pruning, and lawn maintenance. It’s also a great time of year to plant trees and trees.
Here are our top 5 jobs for October. Once again, there’s plenty of back-breaking work to be done.
Clear fallen leaves
It may seem pointless raking all those wind-blow leaves from your lawn, but leaving them may attract slugs and snails, and increase the chance of lawn diseases like mould.
After collecting the leaves, tie them up in black polythene bags and add a few holes in them, so they breathe. After 12-18 months, you’ll have wonderful (free) leaf mould for the borders!
Planting new borders and hedges
October is a great time to have a border makeover! When planting a whole border, first dig over the area to remove root and perennial weeds. Then prepare the soil by adding plenty of garden compost or soil conditioner. Likewise, when the soil is poor, add a potassium (potash) rich general fertilizer such as fish, blood, and bone.
Evergreen plants should be planted as soon as possible; if this isn’t achievable, postpone until the spring. It’s also the last chance to plant herbaceous perennials. In contrast, it is okay to plant deciduous trees, shrubs, and hedges throughout the autumn and winter.
Pruning and cutting back
Trim perennials after flowering finishes to improve their appearance, but avoid cutting everything down while the leaves are still green and attractive. Similarly, October is the time to prune taller shrubs that have put on lots of growth over the summer. For example, Buddleja davidii and Lavatera maritima (tree mallow) should be cut back by half, and climbing roses (Rosa) pruned back and tied to wires or supports.
If you have any (awful) leylandii (Cupressus × leylandii) hedging, trim this now, but avoid cutting into old wood as this will not regenerate.
Lift, divide and store
Clumps of mature herbaceous perennials, e.g., Geranium, Crocosmia and Salvia, need to be lifted and divided in October. Dividing congested clumps, encourages healthy growth, and promises many blooms next summer.
Now is also the time to lift gladioli (Gladiolus communis) and store over the winter months: remove any dead foliage before storing them in your shed or greenhouse. Likewise, if you have any half-hardy fuchsias, pot these up and put them in the greenhouse or shed.
It’s also a great time to plant out spring-flowering bulbs, including tulips, before the winter sets in.
Cut the lawn
October is the last chance to cut the lawn. This should be done less frequently as growth slows down, so make sure you raise the height of the cutting blades on your lawnmower. Indeed, a lawn cut too short will not do well over the winter and is likely to have more moss and weeds next year.
Finally, continue removing fallen leaves and continue the autumn overhauls described in the Gardening In September post.
Martin Webster, The Suburban Gardener
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