Welcome to your one-stop resource for gardening in October. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you!
You can check out my garden jobs for every other month in this post.
Gardening in October
We’re heading towards the quietest time on the gardening calendar, when light is limited, most plants are dormant, and the weather isn’t exactly tempting us outside. We’re not quite there yet though! There are still plenty of garden jobs that you can do now to help protect your garden over winter, and bring it to life earlier next spring.
Here are some ideas for ideal jobs to tackle if you’re gardening in October.
Autumn lawn maintenance
After a dry summer and lots of footfall, your lawn could well be in need of some attention. Use a *garden fork to make holes in the lawn at regular intervals, this aerates the ground and helps avoid waterlogging and compaction.
This is also a good time of year to rake any ‘thatch’ from the surface of your lawn. Thatch is dead grass that becomes matted at soil level, and it can really inhibit growth of new grass. Don’t leave it too late to do this job; ideally your grass should still be growing.
Finally, if your lawn edges have become a bit messy, you can recut them now to smarten things up.
Plant autumn & winter bedding
Our gardens can start to look a bit bare and gappy this month, and bedding plants are brilliant for an instant lift. You don’t have to tackle the whole garden; go for areas that you can see from indoors, or plant up containers and position them somewhere that you walk past regularly, like the front door.
Pansies, violas, cyclamen, ivy and heather are all great plants for an autumn display. Garden centres, DIY stores and supermarkets usually have a good range on offer.
Divide summer flowering perennials
If you’ve got perennial plants that have grown quite big, autumn is a good time to divide them. Doing this will give them a new lease of life, and increase your stock of plants too.
Summer flowering perennials such as crocosmia, geranium, hosta and euphorbia can be divided in autumn. Make sure they have finished flowering before you start digging though. Dividing plants is a quick and easy job, my free plants post shows you how to do it.
Control fallen leaves
There’s no getting away from it; the big leaf drop is upon us, and gardening in October inevitably involves dealing with them. Stay on top of fallen leaves now, and you’ll avoid piles of slippery gunk later. Use a *rake to clear them from your lawn, and sweep them away from paths and patios regularly. You can put all those leaves to good use by making leaf mould – it’s a brilliant mulch for your plants, it’s really easy to do, and it doesn’t have to take up much space in the garden.
Raise containers off the ground
Leaving containers on the ground makes them more likely to get waterlogged, and most plants hate sitting in cold water over winter. Raise pots off the ground by using bricks or *pot feet, to help excess water drain away.
If you’ve spent some time weeding and tidying up your borders this month, now is the perfect time to add mulch. Doing this in autumn will help reduce weeds and provide protection for plant roots over winter. Manure, leaf mould, spent compost and *bark chips all make great mulch.
Look after wild birds
Gardening in October isn’t just about plants; it’s time to start thinking about supporting local wildlife too. We’re heading into the toughest months of the year for wild birds, so now is a great time to give them a helping hand. Provide *bird seed (or make your own bird feeders) and a bird bath, and top them up regularly.
Tidy up your greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, it’s probably quite empty this month, so take the opportunity to give it a good clearout.
Remove old compost and plants from pots; this helps to avoid unwanted pests. Give floors and benches a sweep, and deal with any damage. It’s also a good idea to give the glass a wash with a very dilute washing up liquid solution. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes to how much light gets in, and this is really important if you’re storing tender plants in there over winter.
Plant spring bulbs
If you’d like to boost your garden’s flowers next spring, planting bulbs in autumn is a great way to do it. *Spring bulbs flower when most other plants are still waiting for warmer weather, so they make a big difference to the amount of interest in your garden at the end of winter.
Daffodils, crocus and hyacinths should all be planted by early October at the latest, and tulips should be planted at some point this month. If you’re not sure how to do it, check out my post on how to plant bulbs.
While you’re in bulb planting mode, it’s well worth potting up a bulb lasagne. This is a container layered with bulbs that flower at different times, and it’s a brilliant way to get a long display of flowers for minimal effort. Another great idea is to plant some of your smaller bulbs in little pots and ‘force’ them to flower early, so you can enjoy the blooms indoors before spring arrives. My post on forcing bulbs takes you through this step-by-step.
Protect sheds and fences
Check your shed and fences this month, to identify whether they need a new coat of *preservative before winter. Any paint jobs will struggle to dry once the weather gets colder and damper, so tackle the painting as soon as you can.
Move tender plants
An early frost can catch you out at this time of year, so if you’ve got any tender plants it’s worth moving them to a sheltered spot or a greenhouse now. My post on protecting tender plants covers this in more detail.
Lots of perennial plants will have flowered and died back now, so you can cut off dead stems to tidy things up a bit. Don’t be too neat though; leave some dead foliage to provide a shelter for wildlife.
If they’ve finished flowering, climbing roses and rambling roses can be pruned this month. It’s also a good idea to tie in any loose stems to prevent wind damage.
You can also give evergreen hedges a final trim this month if they need one.
What to plant in October
You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s too late to plant anything this month, but actually October isn’t all about harvesting and tidying up in the garden. There are still some crops and plants you can grow this month; for a full list, head over to my post on what to plant in October.
Gardening in October is actually quite busy, isn’t it! What jobs are you tackling in the garden this month?