Top Tips for gardening this October

Colourful autumn maple leaves on a tree branch. Yellow autumn leaves

As we move nearer winter, October is definitely the time to ‘batten down the hatches’ as it were, in the garden! Here are our top gardening tips for October.

  1. Plant up your patio containers

Remove dead and spent summer flowering bedding and replace the compost in your pots. Layer spring flowering bulbs in your pot (daffodils near the bottom, then tulips then crocus. Then top your pot with something flowering now like cyclamen, pansies or violas. Put your pots on pot feet so they don’t stand in water.

2. Clear leaves

You can clear leaves by running them over with the lawn mower as this will chop them up. If your mower collects the cuttings, use the shredded leaves to make a good mulch for borders.  Add a 5cm-deep layer, but try to keep the mulch from touching the stems of any shrubs and plants.  The mulch will help the soil retain moisture and reduce weed growth. As the leaves rot, they improve the soil. It can take around 2 years to fully rot!

If you don’t have a mower you can’t beat the traditional rake for gathering leaves. Once you have raked into a big pile, use some leaf grabbers (like oversized hands) to scoop them up for either your composter or borders.

3. Trim hedges

Trimming the hedges

Cutting a hedge with clippers

This is the last chance this year to get your hedges nice and tidy for winter.

4. Clean your greenhouse

Ensure you have disinfected your greenhouse and got rid of any lingering bugs before you start to bring tender plants and new sowings inside. Read our dedicated blog post to find out more.

5. Divide any clump forming herbaceous plants.

Once you have removed the woody central parts of the clump, re-plant the healthier smaller clumps around the garden. Rhubarb crowns should also be divided now to create new plants.

6. Plant garlic cloves

Plant with the pointed end up and space bulbs about 10cm apart.

7. Plant hyacinths in bulb glasses for Christmas gifts.


These bulbs can be purchased individually and look lovely when given as a gift. We also sell special gift packs containing everything you need to grow these scented plants for interest in the house.

8. Protect vegetables from pigeons

Net your cabbages, kale and Brussel sprouts before pigeons get to them.

9. Prune climbing roses

Start by removing any dead, diseased or dying shoots. Then cut some of the old woody branches to the ground. You should always retain a max of six young vigorous shoots/stems and these should be secured to supports.  Don’t leave any stumps at the base as they will collect rainwater and rot. Finally shorten side shoots on the remaining stems by one third. This will encourage branching in the spring.

10. Renovate your lawn

Remove layers of thatch with a spring-tine rake or scarifier. Then stab a garden fork around your lawn to aerate before applying an autumn lawn feed. If necessary this is the last chance this year to sow or patch up your lawn. If you use a grass seed,  cover newly sown areas with clear polythene. This will protect the seed from cold and heavy rain. Light rain will help germination so don’t cover every day!

11. Net your pond

For more gardening advice, pop into one of our Exeter garden centres this October. Our staff look forward to assisting you.