The Director of Polhill Garden Centre, Josh Novell, has provided some expert gardening tips for October!  

Josh says: “October is here! The weather is getting colder; however, there are still things that we can do around the garden!”

  1. Apply an autumn lawn feed for a better and healthier lawn next year
  2. Spike the lawn to improve drainage
  3. Clear faded bedding plants from baskets and borders
  4. Buy bunches of wall flowers now
  5. Buy and plant spring flowering bulbs and shrubs
  6. Plant out winter and spring bedding such as pansies, primulas and wallflowers


  • Clear up fallen autumn leaves regularly, Take care to avoid hurting any wildlife that has made a home in the leaves
  • Cut back your perennials that have died down
  • Move your tender plants, including aquatic ones, into the greenhouse
  • Plant out spring cabbages
  • Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts
  • Prune your climbing roses
  • As we now are in autumn. It could be the last opportunity to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas
  • Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf. This month is an ideal time to make a new lawn from turf, as it is unlikely to dry out
  • Plant winter and spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, narcissi and crocuses. These can be planted in the garden or in patio containers
  • Check the supports and ties on young trees and climbing plants
  • Re-position your tender plants in a frost-free environment, such as a greenhouse or conservatory
  • Help drain your lawn by using a lawn aerator
  • Tidy up the garden shed and clean and sharpen secateurs in preparation for winter pruning
  • Wash and sterilise pots and trays. The usual method of sterilisation is to soak the pots in a tub filled with 1 part bleach to 10 parts very warm water. As an alternative, you could use an all-purpose, environmentally friendly cleaner instead of bleach. Scrub the pots clean with a brush. Rinse and lay them out to dry in a rack or a towel. Store them for use next spring.


  • Protect plants in your greenhouse from cold winter nights with a heater
  • Water your plants in the morning so that the foliage is not wet during the night to avoid freezing
  • Clean the greenhouse glass inside and out to maximise the winter sun and remove any greenhouse shading
  • Ventilate the greenhouse to keep up air movement and eradicate dampness


  • Replenish your birdfeeders. All feeds, including whole peanuts, are safe, as the breeding season is now over
  • Leave some seed heads standing, rather than cutting them back, to provide food and shelter for wildlife
  • Leave mature ivy uncut if possible, as it is an excellent late source of nectar for insects
  • Make a leaf pile for hibernating mammals and ground-feeding birds overwintering in the UK
  • Buy a hedgehog hibernation box, just in case they are seeking shelter from the weather


  • Continue to place nets over small ponds to prevent autumn leaves from falling in
  • Tidy up the pond and clear out any debris, weeds, and excess oxygenating plants. Leave the plants on the side of the pond for 38 hours before composting them so that any wildlife can escape back into the pond
  • Tender plants, such as water hyacinth and lotus, need to be removed from the pond.
  • Remove any dying foliage and place the plants in trays of deep mud or damp sand, keeping them in a frost-free location (such as a greenhouse or conservatory) until the risk of frost has passed
  • Remove dead leaves from water lilies as the foliage dies back
  • Divide water lilies and other pond plants, both floating and marginal, in order to increase stocks or better control over vigorous growth
  • Remove pumps or fountains and removable lighting systems, clean them and store them over winter in a safe place
  • Gunneras require winter protection. Remove the old leaves and place them over the crown of the plants. Gunneras have spines on the foliage so ensure that you use gloves to do this.
  • Zantedeschia (arum lily) also requires protection. Cover these with a layer of straw or bracken
  • If there is any risk of frost or ice in your area, then take precautions to prevent the pond from freezing over entirely

Josh says: “October gardening is important because it helps to prepare your garden or outdoor space for the winter months. This includes tasks such as planting winter and spring flowering bulbs, tidying up your garden shed, replacing birdfeeders and cleaning out ponds. October is also a great time to start planning your garden for the following year.”

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