OCTOBER - HEAD GARDENER PLANNER & CHECKLIST

Clear-up begins.

Westonbirt Arboretum- image: Flickr/Gerry Fox (CC BY 2.0)
Westonbirt Arboretum- image: Flickr/Gerry Fox (CC BY 2.0)

Be prepared - Will we have gale-force winds and lashing rain, early snowfall or perhaps low autumnal sunshine by day and frost overnight? Make sure that you are registered to receive alerts for you area. Visit the Met Office website and sign up - it's free and will give you some warning of weather events heading your way. Plan work lists to be flexible so that the better days can be spent outdoors while some work is retained in the greenhouse, shed or office for the more Arctic-like conditions.

Clear leaves now - Start clearing leaves from lawns and grassed areas as soon as volumes amass, and certainly before the snow falls, so that the risk and incidence of disease can be reduced. Leaves can be collected while mowing on drier days, but remember to adjust the cutting height so the grass is left longer as light levels fall.

Fallen fruits - To limit the spread of pests and diseases, collect any fallen fruits from fruit gardens - though a scattering of apples on a spare piece of ground away from orchard areas will provide a tasty meal for blackbirds and thrushes.

Lift the mowing height - Ornamental lawns can be cut at around 12mm from now on, although really fine lawns can be cut a little lower, say 10mm. General lawns are best left around 18mm and less formal amenity grass can be left at 45mm to 50mm.

Irrigation equipment - As night-time temperatures start to fall it is important to drain down irrigation systems and empty hose pipes that are not required over the winter period. Check insulation on outdoor taps and on pipework in cooler greenhouses and conservatories.

Greenhouse & conservatory - Heat when necessary but remember that good air circulation is also essential. Take every opportunity to ventilate greenhouses and conservatories when weather and temperature permit. Water indoor plants and displays more carefully.

Autumn colours - Make the most of autumn colour with events such as photography competitions or watercolour days. If your estate is short on vibrant colour at this time of year, visit neighbouring gardens, estates and parks, and note species putting on spectacular displays.

Winter displays - It will soon be time to deck the halls and all that. Start labelling suitable shrubs, especially the holly, and other plants that are likely to provide the material for Christmas decorations.


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