Gardening Tasks for October

The weather is probably getting cooler and the garden might be looking a bit untidy as the last of the late summer and early autumn flowering plants finish.


  • There are probably leaves littering the garden now. Rake them up and make leaf compost with them. Clear them out of flower beds, especially important where there are low growing plants, and off paths as they can be lethal when they get wet and slippery.
  • Keep watching for slugs and snails eating plants. Put down environmentally friendly slug pellets or beer traps.
  • Container Grown Plants
  • Take in pots of tender plants to protect them from frost, if you haven’t already done so – this might be your last chance.


  • This is a good time to plant herbaceous perennials.
  • First cut the foliage off dahlias, about 6ins above the ground, then lift the tubers, taking care not to damage them. If they are damp, allow them to dry then store in shallow boxes. Cover the tubers with peat but taking care that the crown, where the stem meets the tuber, is not covered. Store in a frostfree, dry place like your shed or greenhouse.
  • You might want to lift gladioli corms as they often will not survive a cold winter. Cut off the foliage, then allow them to dry. Store in a frostfree dry place, probably with your dahlias.
  • Plant lily bulbs, if you didn’t do it last month.
  • In areas where the winter is not usually too severe, you can sow sweet pea seeds outdoors for flowering next year.


  • Continue to harvest apples and pears from late varieties as they ripen.
  • If you plan to plant new fruit trees next month, prepare the beds for them now by digging in fertiliser and compost. Avoid planting trees in the same place as a previous tree of the same kind.
  • Plant gooseberries, red and white currants, and rhubarb now.


  • If you have a heated greenhouse, make sure the heater and thermostat, if you have one, is all in good working order—at 6pm on the night a heavy frost is forecast is not the ideal time to discover a problem.
  • Regardless of whether it is heated or not, if you are hoping to overwinter plants there, conserve heat by lining it with plastic sheeting. Do any ventilation separately so they can still be opened. This is especially important if you use an oil heater which can give off fumes and causes condensation.


  • You can take cuttings of lavender and rue now and place around the edge of pots of sand. Keep them in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.


  • If you have trees in your garden, rake up fallen leaves regularly. Put them in plastic bags with holes in, store in an inconspicuous place and forget about them for a year or two. When you remember them, with a bit of luck, you will have some lovely leaf compost.
  • If you didn’t do it last month, scarify, spike your lawn and apply a top dressing. Apply autumn fertiliser.
  • Mow the lawn again, if necessary.
  • If you want a new lawn, October is a good month for laying turf.


  • Deadhead as necessary.
  • If you haven’t cut your roses back by at least one-third, do it now as winter gales can rock them and loosen the roots causing damage and attack by bacteria and fungus.
  • Plant bare rooted roses.

Trees & Shrubs

  • Plant bare rooted trees and shrubs in the beds you, hopefully, prepare last month. If the weather is too bad to plant trees that you ordered and have been delivered, heel them in a V shaped trench so their roots are covered. This way they will survive until you can plant them properly.
  • Remember to put a stake next to newly planted trees to give them support against winter gales. Check the ties are suitable and are not going to cause problems as the tree grows.
  • October is a good month for planting a new hedge. Prepare the bed well with copious organic matter – a good use for your own compost.


  • If you didn’t do it in September, sow cauliflowers under cloches. You can also sow winter lettuce under cloches now.
  • Clear the beds of all plants that have finished and dig over incorporating organic matter like homemade compost.

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