6 October Garden Maintenance Tasks
We think that autumn is a wonderful time of the year, as it is when nature puts on a fantastic display of brightly coloured leaves as the trees and plants begin to shed them in preparation for winter.
For many of us, October also means pumpkins, witches, vampires and all things spooky, as towards the end of the month, the ever-increasing popularity of Halloween comes to the fore.
The nights have been drawing in for quite some time now already, but during October, you’ll really start to notice the shortening days – especially after the clocks go back by one hour on the 28th October 2018.
This month you’ll also begin to notice that growth within your garden is beginning to grind to a halt as our gardens begin to shut down in preparation for the upcoming winter season.
But there is still plenty to be doing out in the garden at this time of year. Many of the tasks for this month revolve around preparing our gardens for the coming winter, to get things ready for the lower temperatures and prepare for the frost, ice or snow that may be coming our way.
We’ve put together a list of 6 tasks to be undertaken during the month of October, so let’s begin with the first job on our list.
1. Protect Tender Plants
October is the time of year when you’ll want to get any of your tender perennials and hardy shrubs out of the garden and into a greenhouse, where they’ll be protected from the frost and snow that the winter months may bring.
Before doing so, it’s important to disinfect your greenhouse to prevent the spread of pests and disease.
If you don’t have a greenhouse, you can wrap your tender plants in either hessian, straw, polystyrene or even bubble wrap. You can also make use of your conservatory, as some of the more tropical varieties will very much enjoy the warmer temperature, there.
To remove plants from your garden, use a garden fork to carefully prise them from the bed, gently shake off any loose soil and then replant them in suitably sized containers, using some fresh potting compost.
2. Give Your Lawn a Final Mow for the Year
Lawn growth will be dramatically slower than it was back in the springtime, and October is the perfect time to get in one last cut before the winter sets in.
You’ll need to set the cutting blade a little higher than it’s been over the previous months, to ensure you are only cutting the tips of your grass. Any lower and you could damage your turf.
Do not mow your lawn if there has been a frost, as not only will you damage the grass, but you’ll compact the soil, too.
It is a good idea to remove any leaves or loose debris from your lawn using a blower or rake, to prevent weed growth.
October is also a good time of the year to carry out more extensive work on your lawn.
It will likely be necessary to revitalise your lawn by applying an autumn fertiliser, one that is high in phosphates.
If your lawn suffers from moss or weeds, try applying a moss and weed killer for a couple of weeks and then rake over the affected areas to remove the moss.
Larger areas will likely require the use of a scarifier, which can be hired from your local tool hire shop.
If you have grown tired of maintaining a real lawn, don’t forget that installing an artificial lawn is the perfect alternative.
It is very low maintenance, can be used all year round, will not be damaged by winter conditions, is perfect for pets and children, and it’s cost-effective, too.
October is a good month to install an artificial lawn, as the ground is typically soft and easy to excavate in preparation for the fake grass.
3. Clean Paths and Patios Ready for Winter
Now is a good time to be getting the jet wash or hose out to clean up your paths and patio areas.
During the spring and summer months, your hardstandings will have accumulated dirt and debris, and possibly even lichen, moss or mould, as well, all of which can make the surface slippery.
With potential frost and icy conditions on the horizon, it’s important to get outside now, before the bad weather hits, to ensure that your patios and paths are clean and as non-slip as possible.
If you have block paving, now would be the ideal time to top up the joins with some fresh kiln-dried sand. We highly recommend using a weed-free joining sand, such as Dansand, as it’s highly effective at minimising any potential weed growth between the joins of your paving.
October would be a good time to carry out any repairs to hardstandings, if you have any loose slabs or blocks, or if you need to touch up any cracked joints.
4. Create Your Own Leaf Mould
Lots of leaves will be falling onto your lawn and beds during October, but rather than throwing them away, why not create your own leaf mould?
Leaf mould is formed from decaying leaves that break down to produce an excellent soil conditioner that is perfect for enriching your soil.
Oak, beech, alder or hornbeam leaves are best, as they break down quickly and easily to provide an excellent quality leaf mould.
Gather up any leaves that fall onto your garden and place them in your compost bin or bag them up into bin liners, with air holes pierced into the sides – or you can even build a simple structure using garden canes and chicken wire to contain the leaves.
You’ll need to leave the leaf mould for at least two years to ensure that it has thoroughly rotted, if you want to use it as a potting compost.
You can also use leaf mould as mulch or soil improver, if you don’t want to wait that long.
Creating your own leaf mould is a great way of helping the environment.
5. Trim Evergreen Hedges Ready for Winter
October is the perfect time to grab your hedge trimmer and cut back those evergreen hedges, ready for winter.
As growth will grind to halt over the winter months, you won’t need to do this again until the spring, when your garden will burst back into life.
Always take care when using hedge trimmers or shears, and don’t forget to ensure you undertake adequate safety measures before getting started. Wear gloves and protect your eyes with safety googles; you don’t want to get poked in the eye by a branch!
If you are using an electric trimmer, ensure you place the cable over your shoulder to prevent accidentally cutting it.
6. Clean Out Guttering
Over the course of the year, and especially during October, when the leaves are falling from the trees, the guttering on our homes, sheds and garages can become blocked.
Before the autumn rains set in, it is a good idea to take the time to clear out leaves and other debris from the gutters.
Don’t forget, rather than throwing away the leaves, store them, to create your very own leaf mould.
Keeping gutters clear will ensure that they continue to do their job properly. They won’t leak, or spill a torrent of water down the brickwork due to a blockage. They’ll also continue to channel water to your water butt.
Of course, if you don’t have a water butt yet, you can get hold of one from your local garden centre for a relatively small fee.
Using recycled water to water the plants within your garden will help save you money, whilst also being environmentally friendly.
Although growth is grinding to halt at this time of the year, there is, of course, still plenty to be getting on with in our gardens to keep us busy this month.
October is a time when you’ll want to make sure that your garden is prepared for a potentially long winter ahead, ready to burst back into life next springtime.
But don’t forget to spend plenty of time just enjoying nature and being amazed by the beautiful autumn colours on display at this time of the year.
This can be done in your garden, or by venturing out to local parks and nature reserves to enjoy the best that nature has to offer.
Thanks for joining us on this October edition of our monthly maintenance task series and we look forward to seeing you in November.