October Gardening To-Do List

Make your fall garden flourish with tips from HGTV editors and contributors.

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Move Herbs Indoors

Transplant herbs from planter boxes on the deck into smaller containers to bring inside before winter weather hits.—Mick Telkamp/Raleigh, North Carolina

Make Pumpkin Puree

Pie pumpkins are plentiful and inexpensive. We’ll freeze enough at the start of the season to keep us in pies through the holidays and beyond.—Mick Telkamp

Winterize the Coop

The chickens are molting to prepare for cold weather ahead. Time to give the coop a fall tune-up to make sure the flock remains warm and safe during the winter months.—Mick Telkamp

Drain the Rain Barrel

Hoses are detached, debris is removed and valves have been left open to protect our rain barrel from ice damage in the cold weather ahead.—Mick Telkamp

Get Garden Soil Tested

Fall is a good time to get soil analyzed so any deficiencies can be addressed before planting in the spring.—Mick Telkamp

Decorate for Fall

Get out your pumpkins and other fall decorations. The cooler temperatures of fall are worth celebrating.—Dee Nash/Guthrie, Oklahoma

Pick and Inspect Gourds

Choose pumpkins and squash that don’t have blemishes or cuts to keep them fresher longer. Place a flat rock beneath pumpkins, gourds and decorative squash to prevent direct contact with the soil. This helps limit insect activity and keeps moisture away.—Dee Nash

Collect Seeds

Cut back perennials gone to seed. While you’re at it, collect seeds in paper envelopes, not plastic bags. Be sure to have a marker nearby because, trust me, you won’t remember the names of all of the seeds you’ve collected. If you have too many seeds, host a neighborhood seed swap.—Dee Nash

Don't Forget the Birds!

Don’t clean up everything. Leave some perennial berries and seeds in the garden for overwintering birds. Think about planting more shrubs as cover or as food for birds.—Dee Nash

Plant Trees and Shrubs

In the South, continue to plant trees and shrubs. They will put down roots on winter days with temperatures above 40 degrees F.—Dee Nash

Keep Watering

Continue to water if you’re not receiving rain. Plants need water to survive even as temperatures moderate.—Dee Nash

Take It In

Above all, enjoy the fall garden. It’s one of the best times of the year to take photos and enjoy your labors.—Dee Nash

Plant Allium Bulbs

I'll be planting spring bulbs in places I previously marked throughout the garden. I don't want to feed the deer so Allium 'Gladiator' and 'Drumstick' will be featured for sure!—Kim Visokey/Winnetka, Illinois

Dividing Plants

I'll be dividing and moving plants about. Any extras will find new homes with my friends.—Kim Visokey

Throw a Fall Party

I'm planning an Oktoberfest in the garden to celebrate the end of a really busy (but short) gardening season.—Kim Visokey

Cut Perennials

I start cutting down perennials, especially any that multiply quickly by setting seed. Examples include goldenrod and boltonia.—Julie Martens/Frostburg, Maryland

Shop for Bulbs

Bulbs are in stores now. I shop now for the best selection but wait to plant until early next month. Daffodils are my favorite—nothing eats them.—Julie Martens

Bring in Houseplants

Time for tropical plants and houseplants to head indoors for winter. I ferry them in a few at a time, starting with the most tropical ones.—Julie Martens

Prepare Next Year's Beds

Early in the month, I add fresh homegrown compost to beds that will host next year’s garlic crop. Garlic likes plenty of fertilizer.—Julie Martens

Keep Mowing

I continue to mow with the bag attached, gathering chopped leaves for compost and mulch.—Julie Martens

Protect Plants From Frost

As temperatures take a nosedive, I monitor weather reports daily. When frost is in the forecast, I cover late-to-ripen winter squash and houseplants still outside.—Julie Martens

Overwinter Fuchsia

Overwinter fuchsia by trimming back green growth and placing plants in a cool room (close heating vents) with a window. If the room has carpet, lay a sheet beneath plants to catch dropping blooms and fruits, which will stain carpeting.—Julie Martens

Prevent Weed Growth

Put out pre-emergent herbcide in beds for cool-weather weeds and in Bermuda, zoysia and centipede lawns.—Danny Flanders/Atlanta, Georgia

Divide Rhizomatous Plants

Divide irises and daylilies.—Danny Flanders

Cut and Clean Plants

Cut back perennials and rake up any foliage left on the ground.—Danny Flanders

Plant a Fall Garden

Plant cool-season vegetables, annuals and spring-blooming bulbs.—Danny Flanders

Patch the Lawn

I'll overseed my fescue lawn to patch areas that are worn and thin.—Lynn Coulter/Atlanta, Georgia

Bring in Hibiscus

I'm pruning back my hibiscus, so I can bring them indoors before the first frost.—Lynn Coulter

Planting Pansies

I'll be planting beds of pansies. Once they’re established, I’ll feed them with a bloom-promoting fertilizer.—Lynn Coulter

Saving (And Labeling) Seeds

Saving seeds from any heirloom (open-pollinated) plants that I want to keep for next year—and labeling them. Sometimes I forget that step, and next spring, I can’t be sure what I’m planting!—Lynn Coulter

Plant Violas

Pull out the New Guinea impatiens and replace them with violas. Out with the summer annuals, in with the cool weather color.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe/Atlanta, Georgia

Plant Clover (Yes, Really!)

Undersow the tall vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower, with dwarf clover as a living mulch.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Grow Cover Crops

Use ryegrass and crimson clover in unplanted areas for a winter cover crop.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Plant a Tree

Take advantage of cool weather and warm soil: plant a few trees and shrubs.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Fall Is Great for Garlic

Plant garlic!—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Fertilize Greens

Fertilize the greens that have been in the garden for 3-4 weeks.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Make Room for More Herbs

Expand the herb garden footprint for next spring's crop.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Spread the Wealth

We'll share our harvest with friends, family and the local food bank.—Mark and Debbie Wolfe

Go to the Pumpkin Patch

I get giddy just thinking about going to the pumpkin patch. The way it smells reminds me of going on field trips in elementary school, only now I come home a lot less muddy (usually).—Jessica Yonker/Atlanta, Georgia

Order Bulbs

I'm putting in my bulb order this month. Though the temperatures have been dropping slightly, it's still too warm to plant, so I'll likely wait until the end of the month or the beginning of November to plant.—Jessica Yonker

Buy More Coral Bells

My heuchera has been my most reliable plant—it has held on strong all year, through the unexpected single-digit weather we had back in February to summer neglect while I was on vacation. I bought a new one at the end of September ('Pinot Gris') and would love to get a few more planted before the cold sets in.—Jessica Yonker

Adding Compost and Fresh Soil

The annual summer tomato crop, peppers, herbs and okra crops have depleted the soil in my raised beds, so I'll be filling them up with rich soil and plenty of compost to get them ready for plantings of collards, lettuces and kale.—Felicia Feaster/Atlanta, Georgia


Composting spent flowers and plants.—Felicia Feaster

Refreshing Summer Containers

Swapping out depleted summer plants with cool-weather plants in my containers.—Felicia Feaster

Relocating Shrubs

Appraising existing garden shrubs, and relocating overcrowded shrubs to less populated areas of the garden.—Felicia Feaster

Cleaning Out Borders

Weeding and tidying up borders and then mulching to protect plants roots in cool months.—Felicia Feaster

Appraise and Plan

Taking some time to evaluate plantings—what thrived, what did poorly— and considering where to fill in gaps or try new plants and flowers.—Felicia Feaster

Tidying Up

Trimming and tidying up boxwoods and other evergreen hedges.—Felicia Feaster

Planting Tulips

I'll be trying out my new bulb planting tools in lieu of my ordinary trowel to plant a variety of color-packed tulips in arresting shades: 'Suncatcher', 'Plum Pretty' and 'Blueberry Smash'.

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