October Landscape & Garden Tips
These tips apply to those in USDA Zone 8 of Georgia but may apply to other regions in the southern United States.
October Planting Tips
1. Plant A Lawn With Seed: In the South, October is a great time to plant or overseed a fescue grass lawn using seed. October gives these cool season lawn grasses time to establish a deep root system in fall through spring before the heat of next summer arrives. When planting a new fescue lawn from seed, we highly recommend a “turf type” fescue seed. sure to use “turf-type” bermuda seed.
2. Plant Mums: During the month of October a huge selection of perennial Chrysanthemums (mums) in many vibrant shades of yellow, red, pink, purple, orange, white, and bronze are available at Wilson Bros Nursery. Plant these beauties in full sun and then enjoy their awesome fall-season flower power year after year in your garden.
3. Plant Pansies: You live with your landscape 365 days a year. Fall and winter can be full of color just like spring! By planting pansies and violas you can keep your landscape and garden interesting even during the cooler months, when not much else is blooming. These winter flowering wonders are great for planting in garden beds and containers and combine beautifully with other cool season annuals such as flowering cabbages and kales, mustards, swiss chard, Heucheras, and many other colorful foliage plants.
IMPORTANT TIP! Pansies are a low nutrient plant meaning they do not require much fertilizer. At planting time, feed your newly planted pansies with a flower food containing the “nitrate” form of nitrogen, such as Dynamite Flower Food or Jack’s.
How To Prune & Deadhead Flowers
4. Plant Shrubs and Trees: Contrary to popular belief, the cool season is the best time to plant ornamental shrubs and trees. ornamental shrubs and trees, are going dormant when winter arrives. And there’s no better time to plant these hardy ornamental plants than during the dormant season. Planting during the cool season means minimal care while plants are establishing themselves. Do you know that the roots of shrubs and trees grow under ground when temperatures are above 45 degrees?
Note: Due to shipping, handling and packaging costs, the prices for plants in our online store are higher than at the nursery in McDonough. Also, we carry many, many more plants at the Nursery than are listed in our online store, and a few of the plants in our online store, such as Bamboo, are not available at the Nursery. Call us to confirm availability. (770)954-9862
Tip: If you have some shrubs or small trees that you would like to relocate, wait until they have gone completely dormant to do so. You know a plant is dormant when it has lost it’s leaves, stopped putting out new growth or, in general, when all the shade trees in woodland areas have lost all of their leaves.
If you need some help with landscape design, check out Do-It-Yourself Landscape Design Tips & Ideas, or consult with one of our professional landscape designers at Wilson Bros Landscape.
5. Begin Planting Flowering Bulbs: Fall is a great time to plant daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs. You can plant Daffodil bulbs in mass or more naturally by hand-scattering them along landscape, garden or woodland borders as if Mother Nature planted them herself. Plant Tulip bulbs beneath your pansies and watch them put on a spectacular show when they rise through the pansies in spring! Hyacinths are most impressive when planted in groups/patches.
Notes: In the South and warmer regions, bulbs bought in October should be kept in the refrigerator until mid to late November when they can safely be planted. Avoid storing bulbs in the same compartment of your refrigerator with apples.
6. Plant Perennials: October is a great time to plant perennial plants. Many fall-blooming and other perennials are available at your Wilson Bros and other local nurseries and garden centers, and this time of year you can usually find some great bargains. Take advantage of these bargains and plant now for bigger plants next year!
7. Plant Fall Vegetables: October is a good time to plant fall vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, spinach, collards, cauliflower and mustard and turnip greens.
October Fertilizing Tips
Other than pansies and other cool season annuals, and lawns, not too many other plants require a fall feeding.
Important Tip: Cease feeding all ornamental shrubs and trees at this time. It’s best to cease fertilization of ornamental shrubs and trees two months prior to the average first-frost date in your area.
1. Fall Feed Lawns In October
Warm Season Lawn Grasses – If you have yet to apply a fall-feed fertilizer containing a weed preventer to your Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine or Zoysia lawn do so as soon as possible. We highly recommend a fertilizer low in nitrogen (first number) and high in potassium (last number), such as 5-5-25. The potassium promotes root development, cell growth and nutrient absorption. By helping roots grow before winter sets in, you are insuring that the lawn will green-up quicker in the spring and become more resistant to disease and drought.
Cool Season Lawn Grasses – By the time October arrives, cool season lawns in the South are recovering from a long hot summer and may be coming out of a drought-induced dormancy, entering their active growth season. Therefore, unless you are overseeding (see important tip below), you’ll want to apply a fertilizer during the month of October which contains a higher amount of nitrogen (first number). Nitrogen will promote blade growth and this is what you’re looking for regarding feeding the cool season lawn grasses in Fall. How much nitrogen? I would suggest a fertilizer that contains between 18 and 34 percent nitrogen, such as 18-0-4 or 32-0-6, and preferably one which provides a “slow-release” nitrogen.
Important Tip: If you are overseeding a fescue lawn avoid the application of a weed preventer. Instead, use a lawn starter fertilizer that container more phosphorus (middle number) such as 16-25-12.
To see a Wilson Bros DIY Lawn Care Programs select your grass type below:
2. Apply Pelletized Lime To Lawns: If you have had trouble growing a healthy and beautiful bermuda, bluegrass, fescue or zoysia lawn it could have to do with the pH of the soil. These types of lawn grasses thrive in soil with a neutral pH between 6.5 and 7. When the pH is acid (between 4.5 and 6.5) the root systems of these types of grasses cannot uptake needed nutrients from the soil and the grass will suffer. Application of lime can be applied to adjust the pH. On the other hand, centipede and St Augustine lawns prefer an acid soil.
If you have never applied lime to your lawn, a one-time application of 40 pounds standard pelletized lime per 500 -1,000 square feet or 30 pounds of a specially formulated and concentrated lime, such as Limelite Lime, per 6,000 square feet is usually enough to correct soil pH to a level sufficient for these grasses to thrive and for fertilizers applied to be absorbed by the plants. Once pH is corrected usually no further applications of lime are necessary for several years.
Tip: If you’re unsure about the pH of your soil it’s a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester kit or probe.
3. Water Plants, Trees & The Lawn: It might be cooling down in October, however, in the absence of rainfall or irrigation, continue to provide supplemental water to your plants and lawn. That said, only provide enough water to keep the soil damp to moist. With the exception of bog plants, most ornamental shrubs and trees do not like a constantly soggy or wet soil. It’s best to deep soak less frequently than to just splash a little water on plants every day. When temperatures cool down and shrubs and trees have gone dormant, or normal rainfall has resumed, there will be less of a need to provide water.
Important Tip: It is best to water plants and lawns from early to mid-morning. Never water your lawn or the foliage of plants during the late evening hours or at night as this can promote development of damaging fungus. If you have a sprinkler system set the timer to begin watering no earlier than 5 AM. Too, keep in mind that it’s better to deep soak the ground less often than to splash just a little water on plants every day.
4. Fertilize Pansies At Planting Time: Pansies are a low nutrient plant meaning they do not require much fertilizer. At planting time, feed your newly planted pansies with a flower food containing the “nitrate” form of nitrogen, such as Dynamite Flower Food or Jack’s.
October Pruning Tips
There really is not much pruning to do in the landscape during the month of October, but here’s a few plants that might need your attention.
Important Note: Cease pruning of ornamental shrubs and trees now. Late pruning can encourage new growth that could be damaged by an early freeze. It’s best to cease pruning of shrubs and trees two months prior to the average first-frost date in your area.
1. Begin To Winterize The Perennial Garden: Clip back dead growth and spread a layer of mulch or compost to protect plant roots from the colder temperatures that are on the way.
CAUTION: DO NOT cut back perennial Lantanas during the fall or winter, which almost ensures death of the plant. Wait to do so until next spring when new growth begins to emerge.
2. Deadhead Pansies: If you planted your pansies several weeks ago and warm temperatures have caused them to stretch (become leggy) you can pinch stems back by half their length. Doing so will also encourage a fuller, healthier plant that produces more flowers throughout the season.
3. Deadhead Roses & Other Flowering Shrubs: During the fall you don’t want to do any heavy pruning on ornamental shrubs and trees. That said, you can deadhead spent flowers on summer flowering shrubs, many of which are excellent for dried flower arrangements, such as hydrangea. You can always snip a damaged or stray branch here or there that is spoiling the look and shape of the a plant. Simply cut the branch or stem to a point just beyond the breakage. or dead part.
SEE: All Pruning Articles
4. Remove Sucker Growths From Trees: Suckers are those pesky shoots that emerge from the base of fruit trees, crape myrtles and other types of trees. Because they can rob valuable energy, make sure to cut these off now.
1. Remove Or Kill Weeds Before They Go To Seed: Many warm season weeds set their seed during the fall. If you let existing weeds go to seed they will produce next years crop of weeds. Therefore, it is best to remove or kill weeds in your landscape beds and your lawn before they produce seed.
2. Apply Mulch Around Tender Plants: Before there is freezing weather apply a 2 inch layer of shredded wood mulch, pine straw, or some other type of organic material on the ground above the root systems of plants that are known to be tender such as elephant ears and banana trees.
3. Bring Houseplants Indoors: When night time temperatures are going to drop below 50 degrees bring your houseplants indoors. Before bringing them indoors inspect them for insects and wash the foliage off.