Wednesday, October 8, 2014

October Garden Chores - 10 Helpful Tips

October Garden Chores
Autumn has arrived in the northeast and there are several important chores to get accomplished in the garden before winter arrives and to give your landscape a good start for next spring. Here is a to-do list to help get your started.  These tips apply to USDA zone 7 but can be useful for other gardening zones as well.

(1)  Remove those weeds!  There is nothing more annoying than starting up a new gardening season and being inundated with weeds.  Removing weeds now in the fall will rid their seeds so they won’t be able to multiply over the winter season. Dandelions have long tap roots that can be difficult to remove, but I have found the perfect tool! This garden weeder to the left effortlessly removes the entire root.  It also works well with those nasty clover that have been widespread this season. Being proactive now will save time later.

(2)  Plant Spring Bulbs & Wildflowers: Now is the time to plant those spring flowering bulbs and wildflowers!   Some popular bulbs planted in the month of October are Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, Allium and Hyacinths. Some northeastern wildflowers include Rudbeckia, Coneflower, Cornflower and Poppies.  For self-sowing perennials, biennials and annuals leave the seed heads on existing plants so they can drop to the ground and re-seed for next spring.

(3)  Tree & Shrub Protection: Remove any diseased or dead branches from trees and shrubs to prevent winter damage.  Also remove water sprouts and sucker growth. 

(4) Insect Control: Now is the time to apply dormant oil onto trees and shrubs for winter protection from insects.  Insects such as scale and aphids lay their eggs in September which overwinter causing early infestations in spring.  Dormant oil is prepared to be safe for beneficial insects, birds, mammals and humans and smothers out harmful insect larvae before they hatch. Certain plants are sensitive to dormant oil so be sure to read all specifications carefully.

(5)  Clean Up Garden Beds: Remove infected leaves from perennials and herbaceous shrubs. Faded peony, roses, hosta, daylily and coneflower leaves are very susceptible to fungal infections and powdery mildew.  Once the foliage has died back for the season cut it completely back to the ground and make sure the ground is clean around the plant.  Cover with a fine layer of mulch after clean-up to protect the roots and dispose of the infected leaves into the trash, not the compost pile.

(6)  Prune Perennials:  Prune certain perennials to a couple of inches above the ground once they are done blooming for the season. Perennials that benefit from winter pruning include salvia, coreopsis, sedum, gaillardia, nepeta and daylily.  Liriope is somewhat sensitive to cold and can be pruned half way but not all the way down.  Some perennials are very cold sensitive such as Heuchera (coral bells), astilbe, liatris, lavender, perovskia (russian sage) and lupine are best to be left until early spring.

(7)  Clean up Leaves: At the end of the month remove leaves from the lawn and garden. Leaves left over winter can harbor fungal disease and damage your lawn or perennials.  Either add your leaves to a compost area or shred them.  A fine layer of shredded leaves can add valuable organic matter to your garden and can be used as mulch protection for your plants.

(8) Dig Up Tender Bulbs: Dig up tender bulbs such as gladiolus, canna lily and dahlias that do not survive the winter at the end of the month (before frost) and store them in a cool dry place such as a crawl space or garage in either a paper bag or in a container of vermiculite.

(9) Mulch Garden Beds:  Check and apply mulch to your gardens around perennials and shrubs in areas where the temperatures fall below freezing for long periods of time. The mulch serves as insulation for the plants and provides some important protection during winter freezes and thaws and also helps to prevent moisture loss.

(10) Continue Watering: Continue to water evergreens, trees and shrubs until freeze warnings (end of October-beginning of November). It is important that prior to winter that there is significant moisture around your plants before the ground freezes in order to ensure their health. Evergreens are especially prone to desiccation and winter burn caused by drying winds and lack of moisture during the cold season.

Have you started your fall garden chores?  I hope you find the above October gardening tips to be helpful.

As Always...Happy Gardening!


Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2014. All rights reserved



10 comments:

  1. Very informative post, Lee! I'm still weeding, and looking to obtain and apply mulch soon. We're also elbow-deep in garden transition/landscaping, which will truly enhance our gardens (and lifestyle). Thanks for the information.

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    1. Hi Beth. Glad you found the information to be useful. I always try to be timely. You have some big transitions going on there...very exciting! I will look forward to future posts with your new gardens.

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  2. That's a good checklist. I have to modify it somewhat for my zone 9a garden, but the principles are very applicable and cleanup is important no matter the zone.

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    1. Thank you for visiting and commenting Dorothy. I am glad you can use this information. Have a great day!

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  3. Great post Lee. We've been saying for years how our garden lacks Spring bulbs.. so this year I've been buying some. I actually counted them today and I have 457 to plant! I think I'm going to be busy.. haha. I have mixed daffodils/narcissus, crocus, snowdrops, tulips and alliums. Good job I had knee pads for my birthday :o)

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    1. Thank you Julie. Oh my goodness-that's a lot of bulbs! Your gardens are going to look amazing in the spring...can't wait to see all those blooms :) Happy planting !

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  4. Some very good information here. Thanks for sharing. I like your new tool for the dandelions. I'll have to look for one of those.

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    1. The new tool works great! It was given to me by a friend and I owe her thanks every time I use it! Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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  5. Good information, Lee. Closing our pond is another chore to add to our list. Busy, busy ...
    P. x

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    1. October is a busy time of year for us gardeners but we always have something to look forward to. Thanks for visiting Pam!

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Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!

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