October Garden To Do List

October 1, 2020

October gardening can be quite finicky depending on the weather. Take a minute to enjoy the unique colors that only fall can provide. Now is the time to start thinking about frost and getting your garden ready for winter.


General garden care

  • Bring houseplants back indoors. Trim off unhealthy leaves and check for insects. Repot if necessary.
  • Check bird baths for adequate water for both birds and insects.
  • Add mosquito dunks to standing water.
  • Add compost and soil amendments to beds.
  • Check compost for heat and turn. Add compost starter and moisture if needed.
  • Clean out ponds and cover with pond netting before the leaves start falling if not already done.
  • Spray deer repellent and erect deer fencing to prevent damage from deer and other animals.
  • After a killing frost cut back aquatic plants and move hardy lilies to the deepest part of the pond.
  • Pick up a “pantry pest” product to keep grain moths out of your pantry.
  • Reduce feeding of pond fish as water temperature drops. Do not leave uneaten food in water for more than 5-10 minutes.
  • Begin planning next spring’s flower and vegetable gardens now.
  • Water all landscape plants well and mulch before the winter cold sets in.
  • Start an herb garden on a sunny windowsill and enjoy freshly snipped herbs all winter long.
  • Remove all annuals, roots and all and add to compost pile. Do not add any diseased plant material.
  • Rake fallen leaves; keep refuse bags open and accessible with a lawn funnel.
  • Put away garden tools, clean, sharpen and oil.



  • Plant spring flowering bulbs.
  • Continue planting shrubs and trees.
  • Apply lime to Lilacs & Clematis vines.
  • Cut back spent flower heads and foliage as it starts to die back for its winter dormancy period. Leave ornamental grasses until early spring; their dried foliage will add an interesting texture to your winter landscape.
  • Replace spent annuals with colorful fall perennials.
  • Divide and transplant perennial clumps that have outgrown their space. Any spring or summer blooming perennials can be divided now. Add bone meal  to area where they are to be transplanted.
  • Rake up fallen rose leaves and debris surrounding plants. Mound 10″-12″ of pine bark mulch, shredded leaves or compost around the crown of the rose to protect from winter damage.
  • Pot paperwhites now for a blooming Thanksgiving centerpiece.
  • Dig up cannas and dahlias after frost and store indoors over winter.



  • Apply a winter mulch to berry plants after the first hard frost.
  • Plant garlic.
  • Plant horseradish.
  • Harvest sweet potatoes before heavy frost.


Lawn care

  • Continue mowing. Make the last grass cutting very short to help prevent snow mold.
  • If rainfall has been short, be sure to water deeply before the end of the month.
  • Try to keep falling leaves off the lawn, particularly newly seeded areas.