October in the garden

October marks the start of the autumn leaves falling. It is also an ideal time for moving and planting trees, shrubs and climbers as well as hedge planting.

Rake up healthy fallen leaves to make leaf mould. Place in a wire netting bin or store leaves in pierced bin liners to be used as a mulch next year.

Shrubs

Shrubs such as Buddleja davidii and Lavatera that flower on the current year’s growth should be reduced in height by a third now to reduce wind rock. Cut back further in spring to a short stubby frame-work. Start when the shrub is young so that it never becomes too woody and neglected. 

Hedges

New deciduous hedges that were planted in the spring can be given a trim this month to prevent them from being straggly and open at the base.

Give existing deciduous hedges a trim to keep them neat over winter.

If the weather is dry, keep watering Rhododendrons, Camelias and Azaleas so that the flower buds are initiated successfully for blooms next spring. Use recycled or stored rainwater wherever possible. 

Lawns

Clear away leaves from your lawn, if left they can smother the grass and cause bare patches.

Roses

Reduce the risk of black spot on roses by removing leaves that have fallen around the base of plants preventing spores of fungal disease over wintering in the soil. Put them in the dustbin not on the compost heap.

To renovate old climbing roses cut back all the old woody stems to the base. Keep six or so young vigorous stems and tie these in.

Herbaceous Perennials

If herbaceous perennials have finished flowering, they can be cut back close to the crown of the plant but leave seed heads and grasses as this can give a decorative boost late into the year. Many provide homes for overwintering insects and birds can benefit from their seeds when finding food is otherwise difficult.

If you haven’t already done so, Agapanthas do require their stems to be cut down so that energy goes back into the plant for better flowers next year rather than their seed heads. 

Now is an ideal time to be planting and transplanting while the soil is still warm and we are getting more rain so that roots can develop before winter’s harsher weather arrives. Overcrowded spring flowering perennials can be divided now. 

Many parts of the UK will get their first frosts this month. Once these have blackened any dahlia foliage, cut down to ground level and lift tubers for frost free wintering. In mild regions plants can be left in the ground with a mulch of organic matter for protection. 

Take the opportunity to remove weeds and spread with a light mulch.

Bulbs

September and October are the best time for planting spring bulbs and late show stoppers such as alliums. Tulips however are best planted in November.

Early autumn is a perfect time to plant lily bulbs. Plant up pots now to enjoy a beautiful display next summer.

Ponds

Remove debris from ponds but leave on the side for a day or so to allow any wild life and insects to return to the water.

Net ponds to avoid too many leaves in the water.

Miscellaneous

Complete spring bedding in borders or pots such as wallflowers, primulas and violas this month.

Move tender plants into the shelter of a greenhouse or conservatory.

For pesticide free protection of fruit trees use grease bands wrapped around the trunk about 18 inches from soil level or tree barrier glue. This is to prevent damage of foliage of fruit trees caused by winter moth and other moth species laying their eggs.

If you have mature ivy in your garden don’t prune it but leave until February/ March as this is a valuable source of nectar and the berries are loved by garden birds.

If you have room, try not to have your entire garden manicured by leaving an area in your garden for twigs and leaves as it is key for wild life and hibernating animals such as hedgehogs.

 

Sally Watts is a Professional Garden Designer who has been featured in national magazines for her fabulous work on plots throughout the country. For more tips and inspiration go to her website: sallywattsgardendesign.co.uk