Jobs to do in the garden in October – Organising, pruning and harvesting

As the summer draws to a close there are plenty of jobs to do in the garden to prepare for autumn. Try these simple tips...
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  • Start your compost going by buying a bin or building a partially enclosed area for a heap. Fallen leaves prevent light and air getting to plants, so now is a good time to get the rake out.

    Keep on weeding and have a gentle tidy up around borders, but resist the temptation to do a full spring clean just yet. Deadhead throughout the month to extend your plants flowering season and encourage final late flourishing blooms.

    So, what other gardening jobs should we be doing in October?

    Related: Top 10 emerging garden trends for 2021 – inspired by Instagram

    Jobs to do in the garden in October

    1. Plant spring-flowering bulbs

    Spring flowering bulbs

    Image credit: Michelle Garrett

    Popular spring bulb varieties such as daffodils and tulips need sunny, dry spots in order to grow, so preferably choose to plant in areas with a good amount of sun. They are one of the easiest and most rewarding garden plants to grow. When planting in beds, mix compost into the soil to provide rich nutrients for the bulbs to start flourishing.

    ‘Plant spring bulbs in containers, but be sure to keep the compost moist rather than wet ‘ advises Steve Guy, Market Director
    of Outdoor at B&Q. ‘Even though light is slipping away from us, popular choices like daffodils and tulips need dry sunny spots.

    2. Give your lawn some love

    garden with bench

    Image credit: Mark Bolton

    This month is the opportune time to think about the lawn, believe it or not. As Steve Guy explains, ‘If you’re planning on laying fresh turf, October and November are the best months to do so. Ease back on mowing and as the leaves gradually begin to fall, make sure to clear them from your lawn to stop it from turning yellow – a leaf blower or garden vac make light work of this.’

    3. Make your own compost

    Make your own compost October gardening

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    Gather the ingredients, mix them, put them in a container and cook until they’re warm and blended together. A fully laden compost heap cooks itself. Try to get a balanced mix of wet ingredients (leaves, clippings and vegetable peelings), and dry elements like wood ash and scrunched newspaper. Pile onto a plastic sheet and mix with a garden fork, then pack into a compost bin. After 9-12 months you’ll have rich, crumbly compost to feed your plants and improve the soil.

    4. Harvest and prune fruit trees

    Pick off any rotting fruit that will spread disease if left on the tree. When a fruit tree is properly pruned in a timely manner, yields are more consistent and the fruit is of better quality.

    ‘Gather sprouts, leeks, maincrop potatoes, carrots and squashes, ready for autumnal soups and warming dinners’ advises Steve Guy at B&Q. ‘For any other late root crops or salads, invest in fleeces or cloches to keep them dry as well as warm. Empty veg patch? Carry out winter digging where there’s bare patches of ground, mixing in organic matter like horse or chicken manure as you go.’

    Want to get a head start for next month? READ: Jobs to do in the garden in November

    5. Make the most of last minute colour

    autumn garden

    Image credit: Polly Eltes

    ‘With blustery, darker days in mind, continue to plant mood-boosting winter and spring bedding’ Steve goes on to suggests. ‘Cyclamen might look delicate, but they’re a hardy choice for even tough climes. Colourful with velvety soft petals, pansies easily out-bloom other winter bedding plants and can withstand winter wind and rain without too much trouble.’

    6. Plant ornamental trees

    Image credit: Mark Bolton

    Find out how tall the tree will be when fully mature. A large tree such as an oak, beech or chestnut in a garden that’s too small for it will dominate the space and upset neighbours. Small trees are easy to clip to restrict them to an allotted space, and some can be grown in containers. Conifers and evergreens give solid shade, while deciduous varieties give dappled shade.

    7. Create an evergreen armchair

    Image credit: Mark Bolton

    Grow a low hedge around the back and sides of a permanent garden bench to give shelter and to create a focal point. Choose a small-leaved, evergreen plant, such as myrtle, rosemary, euonymus, ivy or pittosporum.

    8. Organise seed packets

    seeds october gardening

    Image credit: Sussie Bell

    Use an old wooden box – a wine box is good – and divide it into sections. Categorise by seed type (salads, annual flowers, perennials, beans and so on) or alphabetically – whichever is most practical. File away any unused and half-used packets.

    Related: Keep your garden flourishing during winter with these 10 easy tips

    Will you be tackling any of these jobs to do in the garden in October?

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