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What You Should Do In The Garden In October

What To Do In The Garden In October

Gardening Checklist For October

Cool days and even cooler nights surround us. In between the giant evergreen trees, we are gifted with the stunning autumn colours – truly magical when shafts of sunshine stream through the overhead branches. This is when our attention is drawn to deciduous trees showering us with red, orange and yellow hues. With beautiful fall colours from Flowering Dogwood Trees or the Weeping Japanese Maples, it is a season where nature embraces us gives a visual delight. Here is a checklist for mid Autumn tasks and what to do in the garden in October.

Here on the coast, the rains will have started again – much needed moisture to revive the plants and trees from summer drought. Trees, shrubs and lawns all benefit. But we now turn to garden tasks that may be subject to weather conditions – and a good pair of wellies (rubber boots) will be a constant sight at the back door for the next six months or so.

What To Do In The Garden Mid Autumn (Fall)

  • This is the month of tidying up and getting the garden ready for dormancy over the winter.
  • Gardening maintenance includes pulling out all the faded annuals and adding them to the compost pile if they are not blighted by disease.
  • Before adding mulch or compost in your garden beds, do a round of weeding for those persistent perennial weeds.
  • Start raking leaves and gather them for community collection or adding to your own leaf mulching pile– don’t include diseased leaves, such as with anthracnose fungus, to limited future infestations.
  • Start mulching the garden. Or instead of raking all the tree leaves, put some leaves under shrubs as leaf mulch to cover the beds.
  • Autumn is an excellent time for soil improvement by adding amendments that enhance physical soil properties. Always test your soil before adding any amendments.
  • Remember to aerate your compost pile from the previous season.
  • This is a good time to clean and restore gardening tools before storing away for the winter.
What To Do In The Garden In October

Plant Care, Propagation And Overwintering

  • October is an excellent time for planting shrubs or trees, as weather conditions are more favourable and less stressful to the plant.
  • Continue to leave remedial pruning until late winter or early spring.
  • Keep on planting spring-flowering bulbs, like lilies, tulips, snowdrops, lily of the valley, and peonies, to encourage some root growth before winter sets in.
  • Dig up dahlias, gladioli and any remaining tuberous perennials and prepare for winterizing.
  • After the nerine bowdenii has finished flowering, lift and divide clumps if needed.
  • Relocate perennials planted in container pots to limit drowning in winter rain or from severe freezing and cold winds. Place the potted plants next to a sheltered wall or under an overhang (soffit).
  • If your clematis vine (group 3 or C) was not pruned in September, do this in October. Roses can also benefit from light pruning.
  • Some plants do not need trimming or overwintering. For example, the Kniphofia red-hot poker plant is best left with the leaves intact as this aids in protecting the crown and roots over the winter.
  • Heavy perennial feeders, such as lilacs, benefit with bone meal added to the soil around them.
  • Continue propagating by taking cuttings of perennials such as fuchsias, forsythia, lilac, hydrangea, and mock orange shrubs.
What To Do In The Garden In October

Lawn Care Mid Autumn

  • By the time October has rolled in, irrigation systems should be winterized if not already done.
  • Fertilize lawns for winter and spread dolomite lime as needed.
  • Autumn is an excellent time for establishing new lawns.
  • If it is still warm enough to grow, mowing the lawn will be more sporadic. Do not cut the lawn if there is too much rain.
  • Keep lawns free of leaves and aerate lawns if needed.
What To Do In The Garden In October

Kitchen Gardens In October

  • Any remaining warm season and summer vegetables in your edible garden should be harvested before it frosts.
  • Salad leaves may need protection with cloches. See garden tools.
  • Continue planting winter crops such as garlic, onions and rhubarb. October is generally the last opportunity for final sowing.
  • Cut down asparagus and artichokes.
  • Remove all faded and dead plant material and compost if disease-free.
  • Tidy up vegetable beds and remove mobile supports.


Spend more time in the garden and enjoy the beautiful Fall colours! Browse the large choice of gardening supplies for your garden bed and maintaining lawns, and fun art and sculptures for your garden and vegetable patch.

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