Ask an Expert – October Yard and Garden Tips

Autumn is officially here, and there is much to look forward to – pumpkins on the porch, apple cider, cooler temperatures and walks through crunchy leaves. But before you get too comfortable, don’t forget there are still yard and garden end-of-season tasks to be done. Here are tips from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac to help. Included are links to fact sheets and videos for further information. 

  • Consider adding a smaller structure such as a low tunnel or a larger high tunnel to extend your growing season.
  • Learn how and when to harvest winter squash. Store winter squash in a cool, 50-55 F, dry location.
  • Plant garlic cloves from mid-October through early November.
  • Click here for a list of fall cleanup chores and good landscape practices.
  • Remove vegetable plants from the garden once the harvest is complete. This will help reduce overwintering sites for insect pests.
  • Protect tomatoes from early frost by covering the plants with a blanket or tarp.
  • Overwinter carrotsbeets and parsnips in the ground by placing mulch over them. This prevents the ground from freezing.
  • Rototill leaves, compost and/or manure into the vegetable garden to enhance the soil microbe activity.
  • Limit rose pruning to heading back excessively long canes. This will help prevent damage from heavy snow loads.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses in snow-prone areas once the foliage has died down; otherwise, leave them until spring and enjoy the vertical accent during winter.
  • Plant spring-blooming bulbs through early November.
  • Consider planting trees and shrubs in the fall to enhance root establishment.
  • Dig tender perennials such as gladiolas, dahlias, begonias and canna lilies after the foliage has died down and store them in a cool, 45-50 F, dry location.
  • Protect trunks of young trees from winter cracking by wrapping them with a white reflective tree wrap.
  • Dig and remove annual flower plantings.
  • Plant cold-hardy annuals such as pansies, primrose, kale and ornamental cabbage.
  • Prune out (to the ground) raspberry canes that have fruited.
  • Fall is the best time to control tough perennial weeds such as field bindweed (morning glory). Click here for a list of weed control options.
  • The last lawn mowing of the season should be 1-1 ½ inches high to minimize disease problems.
  • Apply a quick-release nitrogen fertilizer after the last mowing (late October to early November) for early green-up next spring.
  • Click here for the average first and last frost dates in locations around Utah.
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Pests and Problems:

  • Send diseased vegetable plants and leaves to the local landfill.Use burlap or other soft materials to wrap evergreens to prevent snow breakage.
  • Treat for Coryneum blight in stone fruits (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums) when 50 percent of leaves have dropped.
  • Clean up and discard fallen fruit to reduce overwintering sites for disease and insect pests.
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