Ask an Expert – October yard and garden tips

Pile of fall leaves with fan rake on lawn

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.

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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