Gardening tips for October

As autumn draws in on the garden, October brings the last great burst of colour to the beds and borders. As the first frosts etch the garden with a silvery sheen, there are still many things to be done.


  • Dig up and store Dahlia tubers and Gladiolus corms
  • Plant trees and shrubs since this is an ideal time for these plants to "settle in"
  • Bare-root Roses also establish well if planted now
  • Winter and spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils, Narcissi and Crocuses should be planted now in the garden or patio containers.


  • Apples and Pears which are ripe should be picked and handled carefully prior to storage in a cool, airy position
  • Blackberry, Raspberry and Loganberry canes that have finished cropping should be cut out and new canes can be tied in to support framework
  • Check that stakes on fruit trees are secure and are not constricting growth
  • Plant Strawberries during the middle of the month for cropping next summer


  • Sow cauliflower, lettuce, broad beans and peas under cloches in a sheltered spot
  • Harvest and store marrows and pumpkins before the first frosts
  • Potatoes, carrots and beetroots can be lifted and stored
  • Provide deterrents to avoid the ravages of pigeons on brassicas
  • Dig over ground as it becomes vacant


  • October is an ideal time to make new lawns from turf as the turf is unlikely to dry out and moist, warm soils aid root establishment
  • Scarify established lawns to remove dead grass and spike the surface with fork or lawn aerator to help drainage
  • Apply an autumn lawn food such as 'Westland Autumn Lawn' which contains Mosskiller
  • Reduce mowing frequency and set the blades high. By the end of the month it will be time to stop cutting and the mower should then be serviced in preparation for next year


  • When frost threatens, heating may be required at night
  • Water in the morning only so that the foliage does not remain wet at night
  • Clean the glass both inside and out to maximise use of the winter sun. At the same time remove any greenhouse shading
  • Wash pots and trays and store for use next spring
  • Sow winter lettuce in the greenhouse border soil
  • Ventilate the greenhouse with care in order to keep up air movement and alleviate dampness

General Tasks

  • Remove fallen leaves on borders and lawn and stack to encourage them to rot down and produce leaf mould
  • Re-position tender plants into a frost free environment
  • Tidy up garden shed and clean and sharpen secateurs in preparation for winter pruning
  • Wash pots and trays and store for use next spring
  • Sow winter lettuce in the greenhouse border soil

Plants at their best

Sowbread (Cyclamen hederifolium)
Virginia Creeper
Japanese Maples
Snowy Mespilus
Fire Thorn (Pyracantha)
American Gum
Smoke Bush
Beauty Berry
Pampas Grass
Pernetya mucronata varieties