What to do in the garden in October

Although we had some warm days over September, the autumn is now definitely here, and it feels colder. It’s a beautiful time of year, with the trees changing colour. It’s time to prepare the garden for winter.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Divide established rhubarb crowns to create new plants. It is good practice to divide established crowns about once every five years. Use a spade to divide the crown into sections each retaining a portion of the rhizome (thickened root) and at least one growing point. Sections from the outer part are better than the centres of old plants. Discard any old or decayed parts of the crown. Replant straight away or wrap in damp sacking until ready to plant.
  2. Cut back perennials that have died down. Trimming them after flowering finishes helps improve their appearance and flowering. However, you can leave some stems over winter to provide homes and food for wildlife, and then trim back in spring.
  3. Divide herbaceous perennials. Most perennials benefit from division every two to three years to maintain health and vigour. Plant divisions as soon as possible and water them in well. Alternatively pot up individually to build up size, overwintering pots in a frost-free environment.
  4. Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into a greenhouse or conservatory. In frost-prone areas a conservatory is the ideal place for overwintering tender perennials and marginally hardy plants from the garden.
  5. Plant out spring cabbages. Transplant the young plants to their final growing position when plants have five or six true leaves, setting the lowest leaves at ground level. Water well the day before moving, firm in well after transplanting and ‘puddle’ in the plants with plenty of water.
  6. Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts. If handled carefully and placed in the right environment, fruit from your garden may be stored for several weeks, or even months.
  7. Prune climbing roses. Rose pruning ensures that plants grow vigorously and flower well each year. If left, climbing roses can become a tangled mess of branches with very few flowers. Take advice on pruning from the RHS here.
  8. Finish collecting seeds from the garden to sow next year. Seed can be saved from many trees, shrubs, perennials, aquatic plants, alpines, annuals, biennials, bulbous plants, ornamental grasses vegetables and herbs and is a great way to build up plant stocks inexpensively.
  9. Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas.
  10. Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf. It is an ideal time to do the job, with the ground still warm. The expected rain will mean less watering in is required, and it will be easier to leave the new lawn undisturbed so it can establish really well before next year. Advice on laying turf can be found here