In October we often get night frosts and clear sunny days, this helps to intensify the colours in the leaves of trees and shrubs, so autumn colours can be at their best this month. But make the most of them as they pass very quickly.
There is less time to garden now, as the nights draw in, but still plenty of jobs to do in the garden. The main activities revolve around clearing up after summer and preparing for winter and spring ahead.
Here is a list of important jobs to do this month to keep your garden looking good.
- Protect less hardy plants from frosts with fleece, and move tender plants into a conservatory or greenhouse. If you don’t have either of these a windowsill or sunny porch will do. You can transport them from tubs and baskets into smaller pots, they don’t need room to grow in winter and they will also take up less space.
- Rake up leaves and store in compost bin or put them in a bin bag with a few holes in it and then you can use them for food for your plants the following year.
- Plant hardy trees and shrubs if the soil is warm enough for roots to get hold before winter sets in.
- Plant flowering Nerine, Rudbeckia and Schizostylis for immediate late colour.
- Prune climbing roses and tie stems before autumn winds cause wind rock.
- Give conifer hedges a last trim if necessary.
- Remove spent summer bedding, fill pots with fresh compost and plant bulbs (lily and tulip) and winter bedding.
- Collect and dispose of any diseased foliage – do not compost it.
- Clear the garden of weeds that can act as hosts for pests and diseases.
- Dig over heavy soil to expose it to frosts, which will break it down and help improve the structure.
- Dig up your perennials and divide them – generally you should do this every three to five years. First cut the plant back – it will ensure the energy will be put into the roots, plus it allows you to see what you are doing. Dig up the plant carefully and shake off the excess soil before gently prizing apart into two halves. Replant as soon as you can and water in well.
- Lawn maintenance – reduce mowing as grass grows slow. Last chance for scarification and aeration.
- Gather in remaining harvest (apples and pears).
- Clean out water butts and ponds.
- Greenhouse – the watering of greenhouse plants can now be reduced. Only open vents on warm days and making sure they are closed on nights. Clean the glass panels inside and out. Clean and disinfect floor area, benches & shelves with a product such as Armillatox.