October and Your Lawn
Mowing: Don’t stop mowing until your grass stops growing. Stay with the same rule of thumb, 3” height on your mower deck.
Fertilizing: You can apply a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. feet two weeks after your last mowing, if your lawn needs a boost. This is usually around Halloween to Thanksgiving in the Northeast.
Raking: Collect leaves from your lawn and compost them onsite and use in your garden or sprinkle back into your lawn after they compost into a beautiful soil. If you don’t have a compost pile, then finely shred your leaves (run them over repeatedly with your lawn mower) but DON’T rake them up and send them to a landfill, they are food for lawn. Do this every year and you might not need to add fertilizer to your lawns in the future.
Core Aeration: If your lawn in compacted, consider using a machine that makes small holes in your lawn this allows more air, nutrients and water into your lawn.
October and Your Garden
Plant those spring bulbs now while the soil is still workable (not frozen) for a beautiful display come early spring (just when we need some color in the landscape other than white
Our warmer than average fall means you may still have annuals you want to winter over. First closely examine them for any insects, disease etc. and remove old and ratty leaves. Give them a good water bath with a soft sponge and let the water run through the soil as well. Rinse very thoroughly.It’s best to acclimate the plants slowly so the temperature and humidity change isn’t such a shock. This is best done BEFORE you put the furnace on.
If you’re taking cuttings to propagate you follow the same procedures. Cuttings can be started in a vase of water or directly in potting soil. If started in water it’s important to plant them in soil shortly after the roots start to develop. If starting in soil, rooting hormone can be helpful. Keep the cuttings moist but not wet. What plants you ask? Well, I have started marine heliotrope, rosemary, elderberry, and coleus to just name a few.
Good garden clean-up is essential to help prevent disease next season. Carefully remove and discard any leaves & stems of infected plants and remove.Do NOT compost any diseased plant material unless your compost gets hot enough and sustains this heat long enough to kill diseased materials.
It’s not necessary to cut back all the perennials. Leaving plants with seed heads intact is good food for winter birds. The crowns and leaves of the plants also serve as a protective cover for the plants against temperature changes during the winter.
Cut back plants, like hosta, which have leaves that turn soft and mushy. If you leave up the hosta blossom stems you’ll know where that plant is next spring as the stems stay stiff all winter.
Contrary to popular belief, fall is not the best time for pruning trees, shrubs and roses. Late winter and early spring are best. The exception being spring blooming shrubs like lilac and forsythia. Those should be pruned after they bloom next spring.
Now is a great time to move and divide perennials, especially ones that bloom in spring. If we don’t get much rain be sure to keep them well hydrated.
It’s also a good time to plant trees (especially conifers) and shrubs. Many nurseries are having sales and there are great deals to be had. However, examine the plants carefully. An unhealthy plant is not such a bargain.
One chore at a time and you will be ready before the first real snow storm!
Last updated October 8, 2020