This Month in the Garden: October

When it comes to your yard and garden, the work never ceases, but as English Poet Alfred Austin said, “To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.” Here’s a definitive list of what to do this month.

Top 3 Must-Dos (More info in the sections below.)

  1. Rake up all of those formerly glorious fall leaves.
  2. Plant fall annuals and spring bulbs.
  3. Lay waste to weeds.

Garden Care

  • Compost: Fall is the best time to start a new compost pile because both green and brown ingredients, which contain nitrogen and carbon, respectively, are readily available. (For successful composting, you need a good balance of both green and brown materials. Learn more here.)  If you already have a pile, keep turning it. And add some to your garden beds to boost your soil’s health, pep up your plants, and manage unwanted weed growth.
  • Plant fall annuals for some added color — don’t forget to cover them on frosty nights to prolong their lives.
  • Plant more spring bulbs (like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths) and keep dividing perennial as needed.
  • Bring tender bulbs and plants inside for the winter.
  • Cover fall-blooming perennials to protect them from frosts — it’ll prolong their blooms.
  • Use row covers to protect your winter greens from heavy rains and wind in the coming months.
  • Clear out anything that’s past its prime (along with any empty pots or weather-sensitive garden decor) to discourage pests from making winter homes in your garden.
  • Dry seeds and take cuttings for starts (next year). And then…
  • Have your garden tools cleaned, sharpened, and/or repaired so that they’re ready to go next spring.

Lawn Care

  • Take advantage of the return of rain and sow grass seed for a new lawn or to beef up your patchy lawn. Ideally, your grass will take root before the first freeze.
  • If you haven’t already, you can aerate your lawn to help air and water penetrate the soil.
  • Blitz dandelions and other stubborn, broadleaf, perennial weeds one last time to keep them from returning next spring.
  • In case you missed it last month: Apply organic fertilizer. Grass actually experiences a growth spurt as the weather cools down and it needs some extra nourishment to get it through the winter and come back strong in the spring.
  • Keep mowing through the end of the season — when it gets to be three inches tall, trim an inch off the top. (Cutting grass too short can stress it out.)
  • October — especially early October — is still a good time to plant trees and shrubs (and remove any dead ones). You just want to make sure that their root systems become established before the first hard frost.
  • Put the brakes on trimming and pruning to discourage new growth, which doesn’t tolerate freezes well (a lot of new growth could end up damaging your plants over winter).
  • Clean bird feeders and consider installing a heated bird bath — winter residents need water, too, and a nice water source will attract more feathery friends to your yard.
  • Rake up fallen leaves, which can suffocate grass, and add them to your compost pile — or shred them and use them to mulch your garden beds. When they break down, they’ll naturally amend your soil.

Harvesting & Sowing

  • Plant garlic, onions, and shallots.
  • Harvest your herbs! Dry or freeze them for use later in the year.
  • Harvest winter squash; fall crops like beets, carrots, and kale; and any remaining tomatoes. (You can ripen green tomatoes in a brown paper bag.)
  • Don’t forget: Once your vegetable garden is spent for the season, plant cover crops like alfalfa, clover, or legumes, which can be plowed into the soil come spring. Clover is especially good for honeybees, who need food to survive the winter.

Visit If...

  • You’d like to turn off your irrigation system before the deluge is upon us.
  • You need fresh soil (or soil amendments) for your brand new lawn, spring bulbs, baby trees, indoor plants, tired garden beds, etc.
  • You need help with fall yard and garden maintenance.
  • You need help winterizing your yard & garden.
  • You’ve got a trailer full of green waste (including brown leaves) and you’d like to drop it off at the Rexius Retail Yard.
  • You’d like to drop off your empty Opus Grows bags to be recycled.

What’s Coming Next Month

Raking, mowing (yes, still), and winterizing!