Donna’s Garden Tips for October

— Written By Donna Teasley and last updated by
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It’s time to treat wild onion and garlic in the lawn. These perennial weeds can be controlled with applications of 2,4-D (Weed b Gon) in October and again in March.

wild onions in the lawn

Treat Wild Onions

If voles are a problem in your landscape, start trapping them in October. Place small mouse traps baited with raw apple and peanut butter next to vole holes and cover both with a bucket. Continue this technique throughout the winter using multiple traps and moving them frequently. You can clean up your vole problem!

mouse traps set on each side of a vole hole

Vole Traps

Leaves are starting to fall. Keep them raked off of turf grass. Prolonged accumulation of heavy leaves can quickly smother existing lawn grass.

person raking leaves off the lawn

Rake Leaves

Start making plans to bring houseplants inside before frost. Check for any insect problems before bringing them in. Keep a mist bottle handy for inside use. The lower humidity in homes can be a shock to houseplants and daily misting can help.

hand holding a spray bottle misting a houseplant

Mist Houseplants

Plant pansies early in the fall so they can become established before cold weather. It is important to keep the crown of the plant above ground to prevent rot.

gloved hands planting pansies in garden

Plant Pansies in Early Fall

Stop pruning! It is too late to prune ornamentals. Pruning encourages new growth which is not what we want this late in the season. Plants should be slowing down, getting ready to go dormant for the winter.

hands holding garden shears pruning a shrub


Shallow holes in the lawn can be a sign of grubs. Living just below the surface of the soil, grubs are a favorite meal of skunks who come in to the yard and feed at night. Use products containing trichlorfon before the end of October to get rid of grubs.

lawn with holes and damage from grubs

Lawn Damage

Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Moderate temperatures make it much easier for plants to become established.

boy and man planting a tree

Plant Trees & Shrubs in Fall

Hostas may be divided and separated in the fall. Dig a large clump, then separate into smaller clumps and replant – free plants!

clump of hostas being divided with a shovel

Divide Hostas in Fall

Get your soil tests done at no charge before the end of November. The only cost is postage. Come by the Extension office and pick up your soil test boxes. It’s a great first step toward a beautiful lawn.

woman taking a soil sample from her lawn

Soil Test

Start bringing houseplants inside. Check for insects and diseases before they come in. Keep them away from heat sources. Expect a period of adjustment such as leaf drop.

variety of houseplants in front of a window

Bring House Plants Inside

Start planting fall bulbs such as tulips and daffodils. Plant in well-drained soil and purchase large, firm bulbs.

woman's hands planting flower bulbs in ground

Plant Fall Bulbs

Clean up fallen leaves from underneath rose bushes. Black spot can overwinter in the fallen debris and show up next spring.

rose leaves with black spot

Black Spot on Roses

Fall is a good time to apply lime to the lawn. A rule of thumb is 75 lbs. of lime per 1,000 sq. ft.

man pushing spreader across lawn

Apply Lime in the Fall

If blossom end rot was a problem on your tomatoes this year, applying lime now to the space where next year’s tomatoes will be planted can prevent this problem for next year’s crop.

person shoveling lime out of a bucket onto a garden

Apply Lime to Garden

If voles have been an issue in your landscape, it’s time to start trapping them. Place mousetraps baited with raw apple and peanut butter next to vole holes and cover the hole and trap with a bucket or flower pot. Check the traps every few days and continue throughout the winter until the end of March. With perseverance you’ll remove the problem from your garden!

clay flower pot and mouse trap next to vole hole

Set Traps for Voles

Don’t allow leaves to pile up on the lawn. Rake them as they fall or mow them using a mulching blade. Heavy leaves can quickly smother out turf grass.

push mower in a pile of leaves

Mow Leaves

Seal any cracks or crevices around doors and windows and install a sweep on the garage door. This will help keep out annoying winter invaders such as lady beetles and stink bugs.

Stink Bug on window

Seal Cracks & Crevices

Are you feeding the birds this winter? Give them a good quality food that is high in fat. Good mixes should contain black oiled sunflower seeds, cracked corn, white proso millet, peanut chips, sunflower hearts and dried fruit. Suet is always an appreciated treat!

pile of bird food with assorted grains

Bird Food

Make sure water hoses are drained and disconnected from the faucet before the first freeze. Speaking from experience, having to purchase new hoses and nozzles next spring can get pricey!

Hose and faucet frozen in winter

Disconnect & Drain Hoses for Winter