October Gardening “To-Dos”

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Autumn october gardening quote

October is one of my favorite months for gardening.

The temperatures are comfortable, the ground is a little softer with Fall rains and there are fewer insects to deal with. Important October gardening to-dos include cleaning up your garden, restoring your lawn, and planting bulbs, trees and shrubs.   

Listen to my Green Divas In The Garden podcast segment… then read on for more details about October gardening.

Clean up the garden 

Finish cleaning up your garden by removing annuals and digging in leaves to improve the soil. Be sure to remove any remaining weeds to avoid their going to seed and causing problems next year. Allow some grasses and perennials (like purple coneflowers) to remain standing through the winter for insect and bird habitat (and beauty in the winter landscape).

Some of the plants from your containers can be overwintered inside. If you haven’t already, you can move geraniums indoors for the winter. After selecting the clean plants, cut them back and grow them in a cool place for the winter. We keep our mandevilla vines and asparagus ferns every year. Before bringing any of your outdoor plants inside, inspect them for insects and treat with insecticidal soap if necessary.  

Now is also the time to lift  your dahlias and begonia tubers, shake the soil off of them and allow them to dry. Store them indoors in a cool place (no lower than 45 degrees) in dry peat moss.   

Plant bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees 

This is a great month for planting spring flowering bulbs. For details about how to plant all kinds of bulbs, the International Bulb Society is an excellent source of information. Plant them as early in the month as possible for maximum root establishment before the ground gets too cold. Don’t plant them if the soil is too wet. There’s still time to plant bulbs in pots for forcing. 

Early in the month, you can plant peonies and other perennials. Protect them during the winter with mulch (after they’ve gone dormant). Again, don’t plant or work in wet soils since that will destroy the structure of the soil (causing more compaction).

It’s not too late to plant shrub roses, shrubs and trees in October. The ground will stay warm for several weeks after the air temperature is cold. Water them in when you plant them and be sure to water if the Fall is dry. Mulch them to protect from frost heaving, but do not let the mulch touch the bark on trees or shrubs.

Take action now to prevent damage to your small trees and shrubs from deer, rabbits and other animals.  The best strategy is to install fencing.  

fall october gardening


Harvest green, unblemished tomatoes. You can ripen them by storing them in newspaper. Check them every few days and remove ripened ones. Combine those ripe tomatoes with fresh herbs into November and enjoy Green Diva Meg’s tomato and herb recipe

Harvest summer squash, peppers and cucumbers until the first frost. Harvest radishes, spinach, lettuce, broccoli and cabbage, carrots and parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkins and winter squash. 

Harvest herbs and re-pot them in potting soil to bring them indoors for the winter. This will work with parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano and sage. You should have fresh herbs till the end of December with this trick. 

Improve your lawn  

As long as the soil is not frozen or too wet, you can still lay sod or reseed damaged areas of your lawn. This is also a good time for lawn improvement techniques. Core-aeration is especially good for clay soils with healthy lawns that may develop thatch. Thatch can make lawns shallow-rooted and susceptible to diseases. Core-aeration removes tiny “plugs” of soil, opening up space in the soil so roots can develop.   

Enjoy spending time outdoors with the beautiful fall colors as you prepare your garden for cooler months ahead. Time spent now removing weeds and spent annuals, planting new bulbs, shrubs and trees and restoring your lawn will result in an even more beautiful spring!


Listen to the latest episode of the Green Divas Radio Show….

images via shutterstock.com

GD Ticker, Green Divas in the Garden, Green Divas Radio Show, Grow It, Outdoor Activities, sustainability

About the author / 

Green Diva Ali

Alison Hoffman is one of the many lifelong gardeners and plant geeks that come to it via family history and personal passion. She enjoys mentoring others in gardening through her business and blog, Every Green Plant, and by speaking to garden groups. She grows food, flowers, trees and shrubs organically in the northwest suburbs of Chicago for her family, friends and clients. Alison and her husband, dogs, cats, honeybees and visiting friends, birds, deer and other animals and insects appreciate that she does not use chemicals in the landscape. 

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