Strong and cold winds can be expected in some regions – so it may be time to batten down the hatches! Keep an eye on the weather and treat your plants and garden accordingly.
Things to do this month
- Lift fuchsias, pelargoniums and all the other half-hardy bedding perennials for overwintering frost free.
Lift tender summer-flowering bulbs, such as gladioli, and keep them in a cool shed or similar until planting out again next year.
- Tidy up beds and borders, clearing away dead and dying leaves.
- Cut down the old and dead flower stems of herbaceous perennials to ground level.
- Don’t panic if you didn’t plant your spring-flowering bulbs last month – October is an excellent month to plant them.
- Plant up containers with winter-interest plants to give you some cheery winter colour.
- Raise all patio containers on to bricks or pot feet to avoid them sitting in water in autumn and winter.
- Sow a hardy overwintering variety of broad beans for an early crop next year.
- Plant autumn or Japanese onion sets for a crop in early to mid-summer next year.
- Plant garlic cloves, but make sure it is a variety suitable for autumn planting.
- Although there’s lots to do in the garden in autumn, don’t overdo it and take frequent rests.
- Clean garden furniture before you store it away for the winter.
- Give the barbecue a thorough cleaning before putting it away for the winter.
- Start digging over the soil in the vegetable patch if you garden on heavy clay soil.
Lift and divide old, unproductive crowns of rhubarb and replant in well-prepared soil.
- Move citrus trees and other houseplants into a frost-free greenhouse or conservatory for the winter.
- If bush roses have finished flowering, prune back their stems by up to half to help prevent wind rock.
Layering is a good way to propagate many climbers and lax-stemmed shrubs, such as magnolias and rhododendrons.
- Take hardwood cuttings of various shrubs, such as dogwoods, philadelphus, flowering currant and forsythia.
- Lift and divide large clumps of herbaceous perennials that didn’t flower well. This will improve flowering and produce more plants.
- Check tree ties and stakes are secure, especially on newly planted trees.
- Feed wild birds with high-energy bird foods to help them through the autumn and winter.
- When water temperatures drop below 21C (70F), feed fish with easier-to-digest, wheat germ foods.
- Clear ponds of excess pond weed and blanket weed.
- Cover over ponds with netting to prevent leaves from falling into the water.
- Give tools a thorough clean before you put them away for winter.
- A good pruning saw is the best choice for large pruning jobs.
- Cut sunflower seed heads and leave them out for garden birds to feed on.
- When tidying up old flower stems, leave those that produce seeds for wild birds to feed on.
- If you didn’t get around to all the autumn lawn care jobs in September, they can be done this month.
Kill moss with a suitable mosskiller – only rake out dead moss.
- Rake and scarify the grass to remove dead grass, thatch and other debris.
- Aerate compacted soil – especially clay soil – with a garden fork or a hollow-tine aerator.
- Feed the lawn with an autumn lawn food to build up its strength and harden it for the onset of colder weather.
- This is a great time to start new lawns from seed or turf.
- Repair bare areas or those with a thin grass covering using grass seed or a lawn patching kit.
- Remove and destroy apples, pears and plums affected with brown rot disease to prevent it spreading.
- Rake up and destroy fallen leaves affected by disease, particularly black spot and rust.
- Slugs and snails may become more active in cooler, damper weather – so protect plants with suitable controls.
- As perennial weeds start to die back, this is a good time to give them a final application of weedkiller.