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3 October 2013

October Gardening Tasks

The days are getting cooler and the nights are getting longer, but there are still plenty of jobs to do in the garden - many of them being preparation for the spring. Some of the following tasks are bound to apply to you.

1) The lawn mowing season has nearly ended but it might need a final trim this month. You can then address any repairs or treatments such as scarifying that may be needed, and it is also a good time for laying turf.

2) Remember to remove fallen leaves from your lawn and also from borders and beds. I will be collecting mine and storing them for leaf mould.

3) Cut back perennials that have died down and remove any lingering summer bedding plants. This is also the time to divide perennials that need it, and to introduce new herbaceous perennials while there is still warmth in the soil.

4) October is a good time for moving existing trees, shrubs and climbers and for planting new ones, and also for planting hedges. Bare-rooted deciduous trees and shrubs become available towards the end of October, and are cheaper than containerised plants. They are the ideal choice for new hedging and can be rooting over winter ready for next spring's growth..

5) Sweet peas can be sown in pots or trays and left in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse for the winter.

6) Plant spring bedding such as primulas, wallflowers, bellis and violas in prepared ground or pots.

7) Let your dahlias and cannas experience the first frosts of winter before lifting the tubers or rhizomes. If you live in a milder area you may be able to leave them in-situ over winter providing that they have a good covering of straw or similar to protect them.

8) Ensure that you have moved any tender plants into a heated greenhouse or conservatory.

9) In warmer areas you can risk leaving out half-hardy perennials until the end of October, but elsewhere you will need to bring them inside or move them to a sheltered spot.

10) Continue planting spring-flowering bulbs. For more impact you are better to plant more bulbs of fewer species.

11) Shrubs such as lavatera, buddleja davidii and cornus alba, which are normally pruned hard in the spring, can be cut back by half now to prevent wind damage and to neaten their appearance. Bush roses also benefit from the same treatment. Also check that tree ties and stakes are ok before the winter winds arrive.

12) If you haven't yet pruned your climbing roses make sure you get it done this month.

13) You may be able to extend the life of your hanging baskets by deadheading, watering and feeding. Then when the time comes you can re-plant with spring-flowering bulbs and bedding plants.

14) Continue to collect seed from perennials, and take hardwood cuttings from plants such as forsythia, cotinus and salix. Cuttings taken earlier in the year may now need potting-on.

15) And if you've any time left after the previous jobs, you can give your deciduous hedges a final trim to keep them looking neat and tidy for winter.

Happy gardening!
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