What To Do In The Garden: October

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are drawing in. In fact, it’s getting to the time of year when it feels like you could blink and miss the daylight altogether. Good news for reluctant gardeners; the cooler and wetter weather means that everything in the garden starts to slow down a bit. There are still a few jobs you can be getting on with though.

As the temperature in October is usually warmer than 5°C, you’ll find you’ll still get some lawn growth. If you’re able to use your lawnmower at all, it’s only likely to be around once a fortnight. Wet grass won’t cut particularly well, and the clippings will stick to your machine, so wait for warm or windy and dry days if you can.

When giving your lawn an autumnal trim, make sure you raise the cutting length. This will allow the grass to build up strength for the winter months.

It’s also a good time to neaten up edges which might have grown a little wild over summer.

Jobs for this month

  • Clear any fallen leaves. It’s much easier to keep on top of this with a rake or leaf blower than to let the leaves cover your entire garden.
  • Aerate the lawn using a fork and sprung rake or an aerator. This will allow water and air to reach the roots, and help to encourage healthy growth.
  • Trim, mow and tidy up your lawn so it stays looking its best over the winter months.
  • Lay turf or plant grass seed to renovate older lawns or create new grassed areas.

Laying Turf

During the summer months the soil is usually too dry for the turf to take and unless kept watered it is likely to perish. If you’re planning on laying turf, prepare the ground at least a month before hand so that it has time to settle after it has been dug. Use a treatment or remove any perennial weeds by hand. Be careful not to use a residual weed killer as this can prevent your new turf from growing. The site should be dug or rotovated to around 20cm. Dig in manure or organic matter to help the soil hold moisture. This should be well rotted because any organic matter which is still rotting will cause the soil to sink unevenly during decay.

After a month remove any weeds that have germinated by hand, and rake over the ground several times in different directions. Finally, rake a general purpose fertiliser into the surface of the soil. You should end up with a level area of well prepared ground with no weeds.

Lots of places sell turf, but the cheaper it is the more likely it will be poor quality and thin, with more weed than grass. Ideally you should choose turves which haven’t been waiting around too long, so check when deliveries come in and when turf is expected.

Lay the turf as soon as possible after you get it to prevent it from deteriorating. It should be placed in the same pattern you would see in brickwork as this will prevent gaps and help the turves blend. After you’ve finished laying, spread a mix of sand and soil or compost, working into the joints with a rake or a brush. Rain should keep the turf well watered, but if it’s particularly dry you might need to water every 14 days or so. Otherwise, leave undisturbed to give the roots a chance to develop.

New lawns can be severely damaged if weed killers are applied too quickly. They should be left for at least six months before any chemical treatments are used to give the roots a chance to take hold.

Final thoughts

While the evenings might be getting chillier, there’s still time to enjoy your garden this year. Hang a few bird feeders at least 5 foot from the ground to attract birds all year round. They’ll really appreciate it in the autumn and winter because other food sources can be scarce.

It’s a really good time of year to be looking at new lawnmowers as well. Prices are likely to be particularly good as suppliers clear out any leftover summer stock to make room for new models. You’ll also have more time to browse, rather than rushing to buy when everyone else does on the first warm weekend of the year. Visit our special offers page for all the latest bargains.