The third week of October is good time to do some fall clean up before winter and trick or treaters arrive.
Here are the top “ought to do” chores for October:
• Mow and edge the lawn before winter. (You did already give the lawn that important fall feeding right?)
• Cut back hosta, daylilies and other floppy or messy perennials now so slugs won’t have a winter hideout.
• Brush cobwebs from porch, patio and rooflines – spiders are good guys in the garden so wipe their webs and egg sacs onto the lawn or tree trunks.
• Clean gutters so the overflow doesn’t drown your plants.
• Direct downspouts away from low spots or plant roots if you have exposed downspouts.
• Store outdoor furniture and cushions or cover to protect from winter rains.
• Prune back tall or floppy roses by one third to keep them from blowing about in the winter wind – do serious rose pruning in February or March.
• Plant all those bargain plants you picked up at the nursery during the fall sales. Plants in pots are more exposed to cold than plants in the ground. If you can’t plant now, move potted plants to a protected spot out of the wind.
• Cut back dahlias, cannas and other tender bulbs and cover the area with sword fern fronds or a tarp to keep out moisture. Or dig up these tender bulbs and store them in a garage or shed.
• Move your Bonfire Begonias, geraniums, tender succulents and fuchsias to a dry spot if you want to try and winter them over. Keeping these plants dry in the winter will encourage dormancy so they might survive and bloom again next summer. An unheated garage, shed or basement is perfect. If we have a really cold winter they may freeze but what have you got to lose?
• Add or transplant evergreen trees and shrubs. Giant rhodies, pyramidalis arborvitae and viburnums can be heavy to move so slide them onto a tarp and drag them to their new location, digging a hole so that you can place the plant at the same level it was growing before.
• Now evaluate your summer garden. What annuals did best, what plants should you not buy again? Make notes now so you’ll know what to buy in the spring.