October is a great month to clean up summer gardens and prepare for winter landscapes. You will see an endless supply of pansies and violas at the nursery, which provide non-stop color throughout the dreary winter season. Now is the time to prepare your fall vegetable garden as well. Garden is so much fun this time of year, and the temperatures are great too!
Vegetable and Flower Gardens:
- Pansies and violas should be planted around mid-to-late October when temperatures have started to cool. They love a nice comfy bed, so add planting mix or organic matter and feed them because they are heavy feeders.
- Other fall plants that can give you a nice burst of color this time of year are snapdragons, euphorbia, and dianthus, plus ornamental kale, cabbage, swiss chard.
- Plant your bulbs when soil temperatures have dropped below 60 degrees, which in Georgia is generally in November. You can purchase the bulbs now and keep them in a cool place until it is time to plant them.
- Do not place bulbs in your kitchen refrigerator with other fruits. Fruit gives off ethylene gas, which will kill some flowering bulbs, such as tulips. Instead, use a mini-fridge designated for your bulbs only.
- Paperwhites and amaryllis can be started in pots and forced to bloom indoors for Christmas color.
- October is an excellent time to add perennials to your landscape. Place perennials in groupings around shrubs. If the perennials go dormant during the winter, the shrubs will still be there to provide interest.
- Fall vegetables can also be planted in October, including broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, onions, and garlic.
- If you are not planting a fall vegetable garden, plant a top cover crop, such as alfalfa, which will feed the soil for spring.
Shrubs and Trees:
- Fall is the ideal time for adding new shrubs to your yard. The soil temperatures are still relatively warm, and the air temperature is cooler. This helps shrubs from getting too stressed and allow them to ease into their new location before the spring season.
- It is also an ideal time for adding new trees, including fruit trees, flowering trees, evergreens, and conifers.
- Rake up leaves under shrubs and trees to help avoid pest and disease problems in the spring. Leaves make a great addition to your compost pile.
- Limit pruning this time of year; you don’t want to stimulate new growth, which will then just get zapped by a winter freeze. However, feel free to tidy up any unruly looking plants.
- If you haven’t fertilized your Bermuda grass, go ahead and do it now with a winter fertilizer. Fescue can be fed now also. Do not fertilize Zoysia, Centipede or St. Augustine this time of year.
- Don’t forget about pre-emergent weed control. If you didn’t do this in September, do it now! The pre-emergent will stop the spring weeds from germinating, saving you time and hassle later on.