GARDEN TIME with DOUG – October Gardening Tasks


I love the fall season. It is my favorite season of all. The days have become cooler and leaves are beginning to change color. What would make this time of year even more perfect is if we would have had more rainfall in September to start October. WATER, WATER, WATER!! We had less than an inch of rain in the month of September, making September one of the driest months on record ( last year we had one of the wettest September on record ). Couple this with the fact that we only had a little over 2 inches of rain in August and, needless to say, we are dry here for the start of October. So, keep those new plants watered regularly and we will be just fine to plant this time of year.

Here are a few gardening tasks to work on this month

  1. Fall is prime planting time for spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, etc.. It’s also a great month to establish and expand perennial gardens.
  2. Come fall there are moles, voles, rabbits, and squirrels rummaging in the garden. Fall seems to be prime time for squirrels who like to hide food to keep them plump over winter. PermaTill is a great product to add to the soil at the time of planting in order to protect roots from being eaten and to help with better drainage.
  3. October is the prime time to plant cool-loving pansies in the ground or in container gardens.
  4. October is the month that we want to feed our cool-season fescue lawns.
  5. October is the time to take down your hummingbird feeder. We need to encourage our beloved hummingbirds to begin migrating south for the winter.
  6. Keep watering newly planted plants. As I stated at the beginning we are dry. I recommend watering thoroughly the plants while they are still in their pots. Water them again as you plant. And then, keep them watered regularly.
  7. If you have a living poinsettia plant and you want to rebloom your poinsettia, start a “short day” treatment now. You want to limit the amount of light the poinsettia receives to only 8 hours each day for the next six to eight weeks. This tricks the poinsettia into thinking that fall is winter and Christmas is spring when they would naturally flower.
  8. Our average first frost date is around October 20 to 25. Before frost, pick off all your green tomatoes and store in conditions of about 60 degrees with moderate moisture, such as a basement. In four to six weeks, they will gradually begin to ripen.
  9. October is a good time to clean up the flower and shrub beds. No heavy pruning should be done at this time. Just trim out any dead and lightly prune back any shoots that are too long.
  10. Keep your herbs producing by pinching out the seed pods. Herbs such as parsley, basil, sage, and others can be used frozen or dried. Hang herbs in a cool dry place until completely dry.


3 thoughts on “GARDEN TIME with DOUG – October Gardening Tasks”

  1. Hello! Thanks for all the great info and advice you give. You mentioned fertilizing tall fescue in October. I fertilize 3x in the fall. Sept, Oct, and Nov. I overseeded in September. You can definitely tell which areas of my lawn had more shade as the grass came in nicely. I’ve had to water, water, water. It’s like a part time job at this point. My question is, I used a starter fertilizer at the time I overseeded. Should I switch to a regular fall fertilizer for my Oct feeding? And what about my last Nov feeding? Is 6 week intervals ok between fertlizations? I usually use a slow release fertilizer at my last feeding in November. Thank you.

    • Good Morning, Lisa
      Thank you for reading my blogs. And, I am so glad that you find them informative and helpful.
      As for your lawn care questions. Watering is critical right now for getting grass seed to germinate and continue to grow. As for fertilizing, personally I use the starter fertilizer with both my first two applications (September and October). If I have more left over then that is what I use as my last feeding, which is usually around Thanksgiving. Now, switching to a time release feeding with your last feeding in November is perfect. You have the timing down pretty good – every six weeks should work out great. Stay on top of the watering and your lawn should be the envy of the neighborhood. Doug

  2. Thanks for the reply! I do get compliments on how green my grass is. It seems my fescue swallowed up that nitrogen in the first feeding. I’m actually getting concerned about the lack of rainfall the last few months…and there isn’t any significant rainfall in the forecast for at least the next week or so. I will keep watering unless water restrictions are imposed in spotsylvania. I did read on that we should get back to a normal or above normal precipitation pattern in the next few weeks. Let’s hope. I believe I still have some starter fertilizer left, so I will use that for my Oct feeding. I already bought my slow release fertilizer for my Nov feeding so looks like I’m set. Thanks again

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