Action for October Borders
Prepare for winter
Plant bulbs for next spring and summer
There will be a good choice in garden centres now. As well as crocus, daffodils tulips and grape hyacinths, look out for lilies and foxtail lilies (eremurus).
Deal with dahlias
Which? Gardening research shows tubers left in the ground and covered with a thick mulch (around 10-15cm deep) have a good chance of surviving the winter, unless you have very heavy soil.
Mulch your borders
Weeds will germinate rapidly once the plant cover that was suppressing them dies back. You can use autumn leaves, leaf mould, garden compost or compost from growing bags that are no longer needed.
Protect banana plants
Make a loose tube of bubble wrap or hessian sacking around the trunk of your plant. Tightly pack the tube with straw, tying it at the top and bottom. Then pile a thick mulch of chipped bark or compost around the base of your plant to protect its roots.
In April or May, loosen the top of the tube to allow new growth to emerge, and remove it when the frosts have passed.
Get new shrubs for free!
Layering is a simple and minimum-effort way to make new shrubs from those you already have. It works well with cotinus, hazel and rhododendrons.
- Select a shoot of the current season’s growth close to ground level.
- Dig a small hole, peg the shoot down with wire, recover with soil and weigh it down with a brick.
- Train the end of the shoot up a cane so it grows upright.
- Keep the soil moist and after a year, roots should have formed. You can then detach the new plant from its parent.
Pruning and maintenance
Cut down buddleia, lavatera and tall rose bushes
Cut down buddleia, lavatera and tall rose bushes by one-third to reduce wind damage in winter. Tidy shrub or climbing roses by removing any spindly, dead or damaged branches.
Clear out bird boxes
Remove old nests and debris that could harbour parasites and diseases. Give the box a good scrub with soapy water, rinse it well and then put the box back in its position.
Plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs
You can also plant hardy perennials and climbers while the soil is still warm and moist. Also move badly placed hardy plants