JOBS THIS MONTH
- Established lawns should be watered when they show signs of wilting.
- Keep cutting the grass as long as it keeps growing. Do not remove more than 1/3 of the total height at each cutting.
- Seed or overseed your lawn to repair or rejuvenate existing lawns.
- Tired of raking all those leaves? Put away the rake and break out the mower. Shredded leaves make a great amendment for gardens and lawns. Mow over leaves at highest settings several times and leave them on your lawn or garden.
- The first hard frost signals the end of the growing season and the start of fall cleanup
- Remove and destroy all insect and disease-infested plants. Compost only healthy plant foliage. Remove leftover stakes, string, and all foreign matter from the garden. Till or spade the ground, incorporate rotted compost, and leave it rough over winter.
- .Clean up and remove any diseased or insect-infested leaves, stems and flowers from your perennials.
- Plant tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, crocus and other spring-flowering bulbs outdoors in well-drained soil.
- If squirrels dig up newly planted tulip bulbs, cover the beds with hardware cloth, which should be removed when leaves begin to emerge in spring. Mothballs, cayenne pepper, thiram-based, or other repellants may also protect bulbs.
- Plant frost tolerant plants such as pansies, snapdragons, ornamental kale, alyssum, and dianthus for fall gardens.
- Keep frost protection nearby. Cover plants in late afternoon when there is a danger of frost. Remove the coverings when temperatures warm. Recover as needed.
- Continue watering container gardens, evergreens and new plantings
- Move hibiscus, bougainvillea, mandevilla and other tropicals indoors for the winter.
- Cut iris foliage down to four inches from the ground to prevent overwintering of iris borer eggs. Discard foliage and do not add to the compost pile.
- Cut back the foliage of peonies and hostas to reduce the risk of fungal disease in next year’s garden,
- Stop deadheading roses. Allow rose hips to form and plants to harden off for winter. Limit rose pruning to the removal of dead, broken or diseased canes as soon as they are found.
- Cool fall temperatures make this a great time for planting trees and shrubs. The good weather conditions mean less stress on the transplants and the planter.
- Fall soil applications can still be made for preventing damage from spruce galls, birch leaf miner, Japanese beetles, gypsy moths and several other pests. Only treat trees that have suffered severe damage in the past.
- Divide rhubarb roots. If you haven’t already done so, make one last rhubarb harvest. Cut the rest of the stalks back after a hard freeze.
- Move rosemary, sweet bay and other tender herbs indoors. Place them in a bright, sunny window or under artificial lights for the winter. Keep the soil moist, but not too wet.
- Pick mature green tomatoes when the blossom end is greenish white or showing color before the tomato plants are killed by frost. Ripen these tomatoes indoors. Store them in a 60 to 65° F location. Spread them out on heavy paper so that the fruits do not touch. They will ripen over the next couple of weeks.
- Apply a broadleaf herbicide (weed killer) for creeping charlie, violets and other difficult to control weeds in mid to late October after a hard frost. Do not be alarmed if treated creeping charlie begins to grow next spring; it dies back quickly. Make a second application to violets if needed. Spot treat problem areas to reduce the amount of chemicals needed.
- Sow these perennial seeds outdoors: Oriental poppy, Iceland poppy, primula, scabiosa, phlox, viola, pansy, and penstemon.
- If storing tender bulbs, such as gladiola, caladium, calla, canna, or dahlia, check them every month and discard any soft, discolored, or rotting bulbs.
- Keep watering until the ground freezes. New plantings and transplants need your attention throughout the fall.
- Remove diseased and dead leaves from ground covers. These can harbor pests and serve as a source of disease in next year’s garden.
- Shred fallen leaves (not oak) with your mower and work them into the top 6 to 12 inches of garden soil. The leaf pieces decompose over the winter, improving the drainage of heavy clay soils and the water-holding capacity of sandy soils.
- Plant garlic cloves and apply four-inch layer of mulch.
- Late October is the most important time to fertilize your lawn to strengthen the roots. As soon as the ground thaws in the spring, the grass will begin growing. This fertilizer will be available for the grass early in the season.
- Take in your lawn mower for servicing now, to avoid the spring rush.
- Before the ground freezes give roses, evergreens, and shrubs a thorough watering.
- Fall, after the trees are dormant, is a good time to fertilize established trees. Fertilize if the soil test or plant growth indicates a nutrient deficiency. Poor growth and off-color leaves may indicate the need to fertilize.
- Keep pruning as needed. Remove crossed, broken, or diseased branches.
Minnich, Jerry. The Wisconsin Garden Guide – The Complete Guide to Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs, Fruit, & Nuts, Lawn & Landscaping, Indoor Gardening. 3rd ed. Madison: Prairie Oak, 1995. Print.
Myers, Melinda. Month by Month Gardening in Wisconsin: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Franklin: Cool Springs, 2006. Print.