Ornamental Garden Calendar for October

Trees and Shrubs

  • Spruce spider mite proliferates in the cool temperatures of spring and fall. They can cause substantial damage to spruce, hemlocks, and junipers. Examine yellowing needles on spruce now for these mites. Treat if necessary.
  • October is an excellent month for planting new trees and shrubs. Be sure to examine them thoroughly for any signs of pests or disease before  introducing them to the landscape. Exceptions are butterfly bush, dogwood, rose of Sharon, black gum (Nyssa), vitex, red bud, magnolia, tulip poplar, birch, ginkgo, hawthorn and most oaks which are better planted in spring.
  • No pruning should be done this month except dead, damaged and diseased wood (DDD).
  • Be vigilant in cleaning up plant debris from any trees and shrubs that experienced disease or insect infestations. 


  • Spring bulbs may be planted throughout the month. Plant tulips as late as possible to avoid squirrels from digging them up.
  • Cannas and dahlias can be dug when frost nips their foliage. Allow the plants to dry under cover in an airy, frost-free place before storage.
  • Continue monitoring daylilies for rust. If it is a problem in your area continue protective fungicide sprays until temperatures drop below 7 C. If they are already infected but are not yet producing powdery spore masses, systemic fungicides may be able to cure the infections and prevent pustule development.
  • You can begin cutting back perennials.


Can be removed when they are looking worn and tattered.


  • Shift from nitrogen fertilizers to fall fertilizers which support root growth and cold tolerance.
  • Lawn repair work and over-seeding if required should be completed in the first half of the month when it is usually still warm enough for the seeds to germinate.
  • Continue mowing lawns until growth stops.
  • Keep leaves raked off lawns to prevent smothering grass.
  • Nematode sprays for leather jackets and/or white grubs can be applied if required.
  • Corn gluten meal applications can be applied to suppress winter annuals and other perennial weeds that germinate in fall. (Remember not to apply this to areas you want to over seed as it will also  inhibit grass germination.)


  • Some fall germinating weeds include: Corn speedwell, Common chickweed, Hairy bittercress, Henbit, Purple Deadnettle, Dandelion, Marestail, Prickly Lettuce, Evening Primrose, Field Pennycress, Shepherd’s Purse, Stink Weed and all members of the mustard family. Corn gluten meal may be applied to suppress their germination.


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