Gardening Jobs for October

Thanks to a nice bit of high pressure over our part of the country, the start of October looks like it’s going to remain dry and sunny, at least for the moment. Cool nights and sunny, blue-sky days are great conditions for showing off the autumnal leaf colours at their best. There’s still lots of interest in the garden and still plenty to do. Here are a few jobs to get you thinking;

  1. Continue to cut back any dead growth or flower spikes from perennials such as sedums you might be able to see signs of new growth at the base.
  2. Now is a good time to start thinking about giving your lawns some TLC with an autumn lawn treatment. Rake out any thatch of dead brown grass and improve drainage by spiking or aerating. On heavy soils brush sand into the holes to improve drainage and on light sandy soils brush in compost or top soil to improve the moisture retention. If the weather permits you can keep mowing for a few weeks to keep the lawns sharp.
  3. Try to keep on top of the leaves if you can, especially if they are on the lawn as they can turn the grass yellow if left to rot. Don’t get too worried about leaves on your flower beds as these will eventually rot down or you can dig them in giving extra nutrients. Diseased leaves should be burnt to stop any infection from carrying over to next year.
  4. We try to give roses a light autumn prune, just to put them to bed before Christmas. If you prune down by a third it will stop wind rock which can reduce the rigour of the plant. Rake up and burn old rose leaves, especially if infected with black spot.
  5. Tidy up Buddleias now that they have finished flowering. Cut back by a third, just above a pair of leaves. You can cut them back hard in March.
  6. Keep lifting and dividing perennials such as Michaelmas Daisies, Alchemila, Campanula and Phlox if required.
  7. As deciduous trees are now becoming dormant you can start planting new fruit trees and ornamentals. Peaches and nectarines always do better if planted in the early autumn when the soil is still reasonably warm, apples and pears aren’t so fussy.
  8. Now for the ‘f’ word. If frosts have destroyed the last of the summer bedding or you are just fed up with them, pull them up and get rid of them. Think about planting autumn / winter bedding such as Violas and pansies, Bellis, Cyclamen and wall flowers. Pansies and Violas always do better if planted early autumn and I always prefer Violas to pansies as they flower better, look neater and don’t need so much dead heading.
  9. Raise your pots up with pot feet to stop them sitting in water over the winter and give some of your more tender plants a bit of protection. If we get some harsh frosts remember that you need to properly fleece your plants; one layer of fleece is not enough you need several layers and cover the pot itself as well.
  10. Keep planting spring bulbs, especially daffodils, they always do better when planted Sept / Oct. Tulips can wait until November.
  11. Order bare-root plants such as roses, hedging plants and trees for autumn planting. You’ll save money compared to container grown.
  12. In the veg garden, harvest your pumpkins and squashes. Once cut you will help storage if you leave them in the sun for a couple of days to let the skins harden before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry.
  13. If your tomatoes are still refusing to turn red, try pulling them up and hanging them upside down in the greenhouse or somewhere bright. It should help them to ripen.
Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on

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