October Gardening Tips

“Harvest home, harvest home!  We’ve plowed, we’ve sowed, we’ve reaped, we’ve mowed and brought safe home every load.”
~ Author Unknown

Here are a few gardening tasks and projects that you can do this month to help keep your garden looking it’s best for the rest of this season, and prepare for the long cold winter and upcoming spring.

To extend the colour in your garden, plant some fall mums, asters and /or flowering cabbage and kale; we have plenty in stock and they are in full bloom.

Birds / Animals

  • The birds will soon begin their winter migrations. Give them a helping hand by providing them with some food for their long journey. No one likes to travel on an empty stomach.
  • Non-migrating birds are now establishing their winter feeding stations
  • Start feeding the birds now so they can add your yard on their feeding route
  • We have a wide selection of feeders and seed for the birds

Trees and Shrubs

  • Protect your less hardy plants from drying winds when winter sets in by wrapping them in burlap or spraying with Wilt pruf in early November
  • Fall is a great time to plant or transplant both evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs since the soil is still warm
  • Spray or paint tree and shrub trunks with Scoot to prevent animals chewing on plant material.
  • Continue to water plants well until the ground freezes, especially just planted material and evergreens.
  • Mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to help keep the soil consistently frozen if there isn’t snow cover again this year


  • If any of your annuals have been touched by frost, it’s time to pull them out and add them to the compost pile
  • Add compost, manure or triple blend to the ground and turn over the soil. The soil will be ready to plant the annuals next year.


  • Mulching fall planted perennials will keep the soil warmer longer, allowing root growth to continue. Mulch also helps to keep the soil consistently frozen throughout the winter, protecting the roots from freezing and thawing.  
  • Top up your planting beds with compost.
  • When doing your fall cleanup, leave interesting seed heads and ornamental grasses for winter interest and food source for birds and cut back the foliage on the remainder of the perennials.


  • Time to think ahead to spring and plant your spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, crocus, daffodils, hyacinths etc. Add hen manure to prevent squirrels from digging up the tulips.
  • Dig up tender summer flowering bulbs (i.e. canna lilies) and remove excess soil by shaking or rinsing with water and let them dry totally.  Place in a paper bag with several air holes, adding peat moss or vermiculite to maintain moisture balance.  Store in a cool, dark place between 45 and 60 degrees.


  • Some varieties are grown on their own root stock which means they are hardy and do not require additional winter protection to ensure their survival.  These include rugosa, explorer and shrub roses.
  • The crowns of the Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and Grandifloras must be covered with 8-10” of soil or protected with a Styrofoam hut after all the leaves have fallen off.  Remove the soil in the spring when chance of snow is gone and prune.


  • Dig and divide congested clumps of rhubarb.
  • Cut back raspberry canes, that have grown too long, to prevent damage caused by winter winds.
  • Finish your bountiful harvest and tidy up your garden, add compost and dig it in.
  • Store your dried herb leaves that you harvested earlier this fall and save the stems to scent your winter fires.


  • Feed your lawn with a Fall Fertilizer; the nutrients will help protect the grass throughout the winter and gives it a good boost for next spring.
  • Apply topsoil to any bare spots and over seed.
  • Keep mowing as long as your grass is growing and rake leaves regularly.

Container Plants

  • The longer your house plants were allowed to remain outside in the fall, the more shock they will go through when they are finally moved indoors. If you haven’t brought them in yet, do it now!! Spray them with an insecticidal soap to prevent bringing unwanted insects indoors
  • Fall creations for your front door can include containers with grasses, gourds and leaves.
  • Clean and bring in any frost susceptible containers.


  • There is still time to plant winter pansies, flowering Kale, flowering Cabbage, and fall mums. Keep a little color in the garden for as long as possible.
  • Be sure that new plantings and perennials which were divided and moved last month are kept watered if there has been insufficient rainfall.
  • Watch your thermometer on colder nights. A windless, cold, clear night usually means a killing frost…. You can keep your Chrysanthemums and Asters blooming for quite a while longer if you take the time to provide a little frost protection for them. A small, simple frame covered with cheesecloth or an old bed sheet placed over your plants on frosty nights, can add a month or more of garden blooms. (Don’t forget to remove the cover as soon as the danger has passed!) OR water the soil and leaves the night before a frost.
  • Mark your perennials and bulbs with permanent tags, or create a map showing their locations so you’ll know where and what they are when they die back at the end of the season. This will help you to avoid digging up something you intended to keep when you plant bulbs and plants this fall and next spring.
  • Continue to watch for insect, or disease damage throughout the garden, and take the necessary steps to control the problem.
  • One last effort at weeding will help to improve the appearance of your garden throughout the winter. Any weed which you can eliminate from the garden this fall will possibly prevent thousands of weed seeds from sprouting in the garden next spring!
  • Keep lawn and garden raked clean of leaves and debris. Fallen leaves, old plant parts and grass clippings should be added to the compost pile.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts to remove fallen leaves and other debris. Plugged gutters can cause serious damage to your home as well as your garden when the winter rain and snow arrives.
  • Clean and oil your garden tools for winter storage and apply a light coat of oil to prevent rusting.
  • Send in your requests for gardening catalogues now, so that you will have something to read and ponder on those long winter nights ahead.