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...

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: Future PLC/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

lawn with bench and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/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

compost october gardening and egg shells

(Image credit: Future PLC/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

harvest and prune fruit trees

(Image credit: TBC)

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: Future PLC/)

'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

plant ornamental trees

(Image credit: Future PLC/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 thats 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

garden with evergreen bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/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

organise seed packets

(Image credit: Future PLC/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?


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.