Gardening in October. What to do?

In October the temperatures are going down and the leaves start to fall from deciduous plants.
Besides the time you should take enjoying the autumn colors, here are some tasks we need to do during October.

One of the major tasks is cleaning the leaves that may be over evergreens and raking them from the lawn and from borders.
If they are left over other plants or in the grass they will kill them. They also attract snails and slugs to other plants, so rake them up regularly.

Gardening in October. What to do - rake the fallen leaves
Rake the fallen leaves

Build a compost bin for fallen leaves

We talked about the bad of fallen leaves, but the truth is when left to decompose they create the best organic matter to use as mulch or incorporate in the soil. So, you can make a container to decompose fallen leaves. It doesn’t need to be fancy or complicated. Just use 4 sticks to form a square and tie chicken wire around. The net will store the leaves in place and allow the air, sun and rain to do their job. Depending on the type and size of leaves, it can take between 1 year and 1 year and a half to get a perfect compost.

Trees and shrubs in October

This is still a good time to move evergreen shrubs and trees. At this time of year, the plants will need less water than when moved during the active growing season when the temperatures are higher and the days longer. In exposed areas, protect the plants from the wind. Deciduous trees and shrubs should only be moved when dormant.

Prepare the ground if you plan to plant new trees and shrubs ahead. Dig the areas where you intend to plant removing any roots and weeds and adding plenty of organic matter.

Gardening in October. What to do - Dig the ground
Dig the ground

Propagation in October

Take hardwood cuttings of shrubs. Plants to try are juniperus, cornus (dogwood), forsythia, roses and many others.

Collect berries, remove the fruit part of them and sow immediately placing the container in a cold place so they can break dormancy. Alternatively you can do an artificial stratification using your refrigerator. Plants to try to propagate from their berries include cotoneasters, sorbus and Rosa rugosa.


Perennials that have finished flowering should be cut back now. This will avoid the propagation of diseases in the old grow. But if the foliage is still green and beautiful do not remove it as this will create gaps in borders where weeds will grow. All cut growth can be added to the compost bin.

In October you can lift and divide perennials clumps. The older clumps that need to be divided will present recent growth in the outside and a bare center. This can be done until spring if the soil is not soaked or frozen.

Lift the clumps and separate the roots. Use a fork to do this or do it by hand for smaller clumps. Replant the divided pieces after improving the soil with organic matter. Water after planting.


This is the time to start planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinthus and others. This can be done until the end of December. The depth of planting should be two or three times the bulb size. If your soil is heavy, add a layer of grit in the hole before you place the bulb so it improves drainage and reduces rot risk.

How to plant flower bulbs in pots- dearplants
Plant the bulbs with the growing tip pointing up

Lift and store summer flowering bulbs. In warm regions these bulbs can be let in the soil but in cold and rainy regions they should be lifted, clean, dried and stored.


Plant hedges of evergreen or deciduous plants. Deciduous plants can be planted when they start the dormancy, that usually happens in the first frost and goes until the spring. Evergreen hedges can be planted in early October when the temperature is not too low, otherwise, wait until next spring.

Trim the hedges. Conifers like Leyland cypress can rapidly grow out of shape after trimmed in summer. They can now be trimmed again.

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