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October Gardening Tips

Garden Maintenance

  • Clean out flower and vegetable gardens to discourage diseases and pests from overwintering in your beds.
  • Rake leaves from ditches to make way for the rain that's coming.
  • Re-program drip system timers for cooler weather and rain.
  • Update your garden journal, noting what worked and what didn't work.  Look around at the fall color you might want to plant for next year
  • Mulch or mow leaves on your lawn and add to your compost pile - either an existing one or a new one.
  • Apply a thick layer of compost to enrich your soil for spring planting.
  • Apply mulch to bulbs and tubers left in the ground.
  • Deadhead spent flowers.
  • Lift tuberous begonias.
  • Lift and divide dahlias, dust with sulfur before storing.
  • Divide lilies.
  • Cut back and divide spent perennial phlox asters.
  • Cover compost bins with plastic tarps once the rains begin.
  • Clean out bird houses and bird feeders.
  • Cut old berry canes and tie the new canes to support wires. It's easy to identify the old canes now - they're turning brown.
  • Finish pruning any fruit trees after the last fruit is removed.


  • Established lawns
  • Indoor plants
  • Persimmons and pomegranates before dormancy
  • Chrysanthemums

Spray: Check the California Backyard Orchard website for current information.

  • First dormant spray of stone fruits when leaves fall.
  • Citrus with copper for brown rot.  Pay special attention to lower branches and ground under tree.
  • Cane berries with copper before winter rains.

What to Plant in October

Trees, shrubs, perennials

  • October and November are the best months to plant.
  • Acorns for new oak trees.  Acorns do best with 30 days cold treatment.
  • Install drought tolerant shrubs and perennials such as barberry, ceanothus, dogwood, iris, fremontia, manzanita, Oregon grape, penstemon, redbud, rockrose, smoke tree, toyon.
  • Plant spring bulbs! You have about 2 months to get them in the ground.


  • Direct seed cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, lupine, columbine, portulaca, sweet pea, garden pea, and stock.
  • Above 200': direct seed crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, scilla, tulips
  • Continue to set out cool-weather bedding plants such as calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.


  • Plant onions, garlic, artichokes and asparagus before frost.
  • Direct seed beets, bok choy, spinach, peas, mustard, radishes.
  • At warmer elevations, plant potatoes now through March.


  • This is an ideal time to reseed bare spots.
  • Think about reducing the size of, or removing, your lawn to conserve resources.

Cover Crops

  • Seed for erosion control on slopes.
  • Clover or fava beans to improve soil structure in your vegetable garden.