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In Your Garden : Gardening tips for October

Welcome to Autumn! It has been a bit of a shock to the system having a chill in the air after we have been used to almost tropical temperatures. Still, there's days where we are not sure if we should be putting away the summer wardrobe just yet. This time before the cold really starts to hit is quite pleasant. Fresh and cool first thing then warming up late morning, perfect for a stroll. We are making the most of being able to get the washing out on the line still! 


You will have noticed that the leaves are starting to turn already and falling, so now starts the garden tidying!


woman with leaf blower blowing fallen leaves in autumn



Leaves will need raking often and if you have an area to be able to let them rot down, they make fantastic mulch, once rotted down it is called leaf mold, it resembles compost. It will take around a year to decompose enough. It improves the soil fertility and as any mulch does, it will suppress weeds, keep in moisture, and keep the soil warm. When applying the leaf mold, it should be about 5cm to 10cm thick. Allow a little space between the mold and plant stems. There are other methods to make leaf mold, but I like the old-fashioned way.


woman cutting hedge in autumn with hedge trimmer


Other jobs to do now -


  • Keeping on top of your lawn as discussed last month. 


  • Give hedges a last trim to keep them looking smart.


  • Cut back any herbaceous plants that are ready. You will see that the flowers start to die back then the leaves and stems. Depending on the plant some stems can be left until the spring for overwintering insects.  Some seed heads look fantastic over the wintertime such as Agapanthus, teasels, allium and poppies.


  • Move any tender plants indoors to protect them.


Man in green wellies digging garden beds


  • Lift any herbaceous perennials that are in need early this month. Make sure you have a bed ready to accommodate them. Start by digging out the whole plant, keeping a good root ball then use two forks to prize apart gently – used back-to-back. Make sure to check for any weeds such as bindweed and remove carefully then cut back foliage. You may be renovating a bed or splitting to use in another position, when replanting add good quality organic matter to help the plant establish.


hand pruning tree bushes in garden



  • Fruit bushes can be thinned out. 


  • Climbing roses can be pruned now, cutting back any stems necessary and thinning crossing stems before tying in the new stems to train them. I like to trim shrub roses now to keep them in good shape removing dead, damaged and diseased stems creating a nice open goblet shape. 

Most other pruning can be left until spring unless there is a chance of wind rock, you could reduce the height for now.


children and adult planting shrubs in autumn garden


Planting shrubs

The ideal time is during the dormant season between October and April.

Make sure you chose carefully to ensure you have the right plant for the place, think about overall width and height. There are lots of things to consider when choosing your shrub such as, is it for a particular purpose for example to attract wildlife, for formality, privacy or just for ornamental purposes.

As I have mentioned in an earlier blog, you will need to balance planting with at least half or more with evergreen shrubs to make sure there is some colour in the winter garden. Include winter flowering shrubs and colourful stems. The garden in winter and early spring can look beautiful if carefully planned.


  • Ensure the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen and prepare well, bare rooted trees should be soaked before planting and potted ones given a good water. 


  • Position your plant ensuring the roots have ample room to spread. A square hole is good so not to allow the roots to spiral. Check the depth to ensure the soil level is correct, more soil may need digging out.


  • Backfill the hole and firm down to remove any air pockets. 


  • Water in and add mulch to keep in the moisture, keep the soil warm and suppress weeds.


Next month we will be talking about looking after our wildlife over winter pruning apple and pear trees and what can be planted. Until next time, happy gardening!

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