Gardening in October
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.
Pests & Disease
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.