By the end of the month, temperatures should be cool enough that you can plant your spring-flowering bulbs (Daffodils, Tulips, Allium, Hyacinth, Muscari, Crocus, etc.) without fear of premature growth. Plant your bulbs in a specific pattern, or randomly throughout a bed for a more natural look. Giant Allium makes a great statement in a perennial border, while Daffodils look fabulous as a mass planting against a wall or scattered in smaller groups through a planting bed or wooded area.
After the first few touches of frost, your perennials will start to deteriorate, signaling the end of another growing season. Cut back anything that looks tired, brown, crispy, or dead. Leave ornamental grasses and plants like Echinacea, Rudbeckia, and certain fern varieties – they add great winter interest to the landscape and can provide food for hungry birds.
After a hard frost, but before the ground freezes, be sure to dig up your tender bulbs and tubers like Dahlias, Elephant Ears, and Canna Lilies. Carefully cut back the foliage and gently dig up the tubers. Check for signs of rot or animal damage and discard any unhealthy pieces. Remove the dirt from the bulbs and store in a box full of peat moss or sand in a cool, dry place over the winter.
Stay on top of yard litter during October. Add raked leaves to your compost pile or shred them for mulch. Round up the fallen fruits from Crabapples, Apples, Cherries, Plums, Peaches, etc and dispose of them off the property to prevent the spread of pests and diseases that can overwinter in the fruit.
Take notice of small ponds and streams, and you’ll probably notice a water deficit. The past few fall seasons have been very dry, with little significant rain. Be kind to your new plantings and continue to water weekly throughout the month of October and into November.