Three Cheers For Fall!: October Gardening Tips

Welcome to October, gardeners! Fall is in full swing and there is still plenty to do in the garden!

“Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves.

We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.”

~Humbert Wolfe, 1936

Check these October gardening tips off your to-do lists. If you missed our tips last month, you can find them here

Trees and Shrubs 

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are 

full of trees and changing leaves…” – Virginia Woolf

If you can dig, you can plant! Fall is an excellent time to add a tree to your yard. The cool weather is less stressful for the trees, which helps them establish strong roots. Come spring you’ll have a happy, healthy tree!

Apply a 2 – 4″ layer of mulch on top of newly planted trees to help protect them from the freezing and thawing that occurs during the winter. Do not put the mulch directly against the trunk of the tree as it can harbor insects and rot the bark.

Later in the month, young trees should be wrapped with white tree wrap for the winter to help prevent sunscald.

What Is Sunscald?

Sunscald happens during cold winter weather and is caused by sudden temperature changes of the bark. On a sunny, cold winter day, cold hardy tissues in the bark on the south to the southwest side of the trunk are exposed to direct sunlight and warm up. 

The warmed bark de-acclimates, decreasing its ability to withstand freezing temperatures. When the sun goes down or behind a cloud, the temperature of the bark drops quickly to below freezing and the bark tissues are unable to reacclimate or regain cold hardiness quickly enough to withstand freezing. (via WSU Extension)


​​”I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L.M. Montgomery

It’s clean-up time! Remove all diseased or insect-ridden plants from the garden to cut down on problems in the spring.

Prepare new beds for the spring and add compost to existing gardens. A thick layer of compost can also help keep late fall and early spring weeds in check.

Now is the time to plant spring-blooming bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, and crocuses. Find more bulb-planting tips and tricks here

This is also a great time to choose shrubs with good fall color so you can enjoy them this season! 

Lawn Care 

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler crust of brown sugar and cinnamon.” – Sarah Addison Allen

The clean-up continues…

Remove fallen leaves and debris on your lawn to help prevent disease problems down the road. If the leaves and garden debris are free of disease, they can be added to a compost pile.

Apply weed killers as necessary to control broadleaf weeds and spray field bindweed (morning glory) right before the first freeze. Fall is a good time to put on pre-emergent to help prevent annual weeds.

You can also fertilize your lawn with a slow-release fertilizer or winterizer.

When the weather is cool this month, water 3/4″ every 6 to 9 days.


Check back next month for November tips. For more pointers, check out our Seasonal Tips page

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