Your October gardening to-do list

Autumn is the time to clear up the garden and begin soil preparation and bulb planting for next spring.

  1. Tall shrubs like buddleia which will be pruned hard in spring, can be reduced by about half their height, to neaten their appearance and prevent wind rock over winter.
  2. Rake up fallen leaves from roses to prevent blackspot spores from overwintering in the soil.
  3. Start digging over vegetable plots, incorporating organic matter. This is especially so if you have heavy clay as it’ll need the winter weather to break it down and improve the structure.
  4. Cut back perennials that have finished flowering to tidy up the garden and discourage diseases attacking old growth.
  5. Plant new herbaceous perennials while the soil is still warm and moist, preparing the soil by incorporating plenty of organic matter and adding some bonemeal, ideally in groups of threes or more for impact.
  6. Plant trees and shrubs adding mycorrhizal fungi into the planting hole for enhanced root growth..
  7. To fill your garden with colour next spring you can start planting bulbs such as daffodils, crocus, grape hyacinths and tulips.
  8. Invest in some plants for autumn interest if your garden is lacking, such as late blooming perennials and shrubs with autumn colour such as Cotinus and Ceratostigma with its fab bright blue flowers.
  9. Rake up fallen leaves from the lawn and amongst the border to prevent them killing off the grass and encouraging slugs.  (To make leaf mould with them, put them in a black polythene bag with a few holes, or on a heap to make leaf mould).
  10. Clear the straw from around strawberries and shear back foliage to improve ventilation.  Wrap grease bands around the trunk of apple trees to trap winter month females.