It might feel a bit brisk outside this month, but October’s often the best time for beautiful crisp autumn weather. When it’s fine, seize the chance to get out and enjoy some stunning autumn colour in your garden. And while you’re out there, here are our top October garden jobs to keep things looking good through winter and get ready for next year.
Garden tips for October
Cut back herbaceous perennials as they die down, and divide overgrown clumps of perennials such as crocosmia, daylilies and hardy geraniums. Use the sharp edge of a spade to divide woody roots, or insert two garden forks back to back to lever apart fibrous root clumps.
Move tender plants like pelargoniums and citrus trees into a greenhouse or conservatory before the first frosts. Keep citrus trees away from draughts and radiators.
In cold areas, lift dahlia tubers after the first frost. Let them dry, then store them in a box, covered with dry compost. In milder areas, you may get away with simply mulching heavily.
Plant onion, shallot and garlic sets now for a bumper crop next year.
Sow hardy pea varieties like ‘Avola’ or ‘Meteor’ outside now for early crops next year. Cover the ground with netting or spread prickly holly leaves to protect the seeds from hungry mice.
If you’re growing Brussels sprouts for your Christmas dinner, stake the plants and firm the earth well around the roots to protect them against autumn winds.
Harvest the last of your peas and beans, then cut the plants down to ground level, leaving the roots to release their stored nitrogen back into the ground. Harvest squash and pumpkins before the first frosts.
Pick any unripe tomatoes and peppers and ripen them indoors by placing them in paper bags together with a banana or an apple – these fruits release ethylene which encourages ripening. Check on them regularly and remove any rotting fruits.
Prune climbing roses, and reduce the height of shrub roses by half to protect them against wind rock.
Scarify, aerate and top-dress lawns, then give them a low-nitrogen autumn feed. Repair damaged lawns by laying turf or sowing seed.
Raise pots on pot feet to improve drainage and reduce the risk of frost damage to both pots and plants.
Now’s a good time to move existing deciduous shrubs and trees, and to plant new ones. It’s also the ideal time to plant hedges.
Plant spring bulbs in pots and borders.
Replant pots and hanging baskets with winter heathers, ivy, violas and cyclamens for winter colour. Plant wallflowers now too, for spring blooms.
Plant hyacinth bulbs in pots indoors now to give you flowers at Christmas. Look for bulbs marked ‘Prepared for indoor growing’, which will have been given cold treatments to encourage them to flower early.
We’re here to help with all your gardening projects, so visit us soon to see what’s in stock this autumn.