October: Chore Time In The Garden

Fall has arrived!

I have mentioned many times that this is my favorite time of the year. Pumpkin recipes for everything, the beautiful and majestic colors of fall, hot apple cider, hay rides, bon fires, and smores! I feel October officially kicks off the holiday season. It is also the time to start your garden chores before the onset of bad weather.


Overseeding after aerating your lawn

Overseeding after aerating your lawn

Starting in about mid-late August through about the beginning of November is when we do our lawn renovations. This is where we can do a full overhaul or aeration and overseeding. A lot of people do not understand the importance of this process. There are a couple blogs in our archives you can read to get more information. Find a link to a couple of the blogs below:

Lawn Renovation

Aeration & Overseeding Follow-Up

October…It’s the perfect time to …

  • plant spring bulbs
  • plant trees, shrubs, and perennials
  • divide peonies and iris
  • tidy your flower beds
  • decorate for the season

bulbs1 bulbs2

Most people do not think about winterizing their garden and doing maintenance on their tools. This is very important in the fall to do both.

Water Your Lawn & Garden Deeply

One of the single most important things you can to winterize your lawn and flower beds is to give them a very thorough and deep watering before the ground freezes. By doing so this provides an abundance of water needs for your plants to survive the winter months.


Also Remember, unless there is snow cover, it is important to water your plants during prolonged dry spells in the winter, typically longer than 2 weeks, to avoid damage to roots and evergreen foliage due to dehydration and desiccating winds. The best time to water in the winter is in the middle of the day and when temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizing is important. Using an organic slow-release fertilizer in your beds. They typically promote the right growth at the right time. Inorganic fertilizers can at times promote early growth because they work faster and this can cause problems when it puts your plants at risk for growing and blooming too early when we are still at risk for freezes.

Overseeding after aerating your lawn

Overseeding after aerating your lawn

Cutting Back Perennials:

When your perennials have finished blooming for the year, you can cut them back and compost the foliage. It is not necessary to do this in the fall but many gardeners enjoy cleaning the garden at this time to make it look more tidy through the fall and winter months.


Some perennials SHOULD be cut back in the fall:

Cut back plants with obvious disease problems.
  • Any plant foliage that looks diseased, has powdery mildew, or insect damage should be cut back and the foliage should be bagged up and placed in the trash. This plant material should never be composted because it could contaminate your garden next year.
  • It is especially important to cut back and throw out peony foliage as peonies are prone to fungal diseases.

Some plants SHOULD NOT be cut back in the fall:

  • Do not cut back ornamental grasses, Buddleia, crape myrtle, Callicarpa, or Caryopteris until spring.
    • Ornamental grasses should be cut close to the ground in early spring before growth begins.
Cut Buddleia back in the spring
    • After the threat of cold weather in the spring, prune the above listed shrubs back to live green wood or down to about 12″-18″.
    • Prune crape myrtle later in the spring after new growth begins so you can identify and remove any winter killed branches before you do any pruning of live wood.
  • If you want, leave the stems of taller sedums, ornamental grasses, and the seed pods of Yucca, poppies, and Siberian Iris because they look nice throughout winter even after their flowers are gone.

Weed and Mulch your beds:

weedingWeeds act as a host for insects and plant diseases which can and will spread to your plants. A bonus for weeding in the fall is that you get a jump start to spring weeding and can a lot of time eliminate weeds from seeding and more growing in the spring.


mulch1Mulching is very important as it can keep plants from heaving, where roots can break off, and keep the crowns of tender plants protected. Mulching keeps down weeds and helps to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the winter months. A layer of mulch can also insulate the plants and keep the process of heaving from happening.

Protect your Evergreens:

Evergreen are very susceptible from wind burn by spraying anti-desiccant onto the leaves which will help the leaves from becoming wind burnt.


It is too early to do this now but put it on your gardening calendar for later this fall. Read the label and apply according to the label directions.

In Your Tool Shed

It is important to take some time to organize your tool shed.

  • Inventory your supply of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. Make sure they are well sealed in their original containers and locked in an area protected from freezing temperatures and away from curious children and pets.
  • gardentoolsClean dirt off tools to prevent them from rusting. Sharpen any tools that need it. Tools with wooden handles should be rubbed down with a mixture of two parts boiled linseed oil to one part paint thinner or turpentine to keep them from cracking.

Drain the gas from all machines.  Interestingly enough, winter is the best time to service your lawn mower and tiller. There is typically a much quicker turn around time in winter and since you won’t need them, it’s much more convenient for you.

At Roanoke Landscapes we take care of all of these aspects of property management. We can do it all or help you come up with a plan to take care of certain aspects of your property.Call us today! 540-992-4845


Some information from Viette Nurseries was used in this article.


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