October jobs in the garden

October is a truly autumnal month; the clocks go back in the wee small hours of Sunday 30th and we lose nearly two hours of daylight over the month as both sunrise and sunset draw in.  But don’t be tempted to hibernate just yet!  During those precious daylight hours, there is still plenty to keep you pottering in the garden.  Many of the jobs are about tidying up for winter or protecting plants until you can bring them out again when spring returns.  There are also some really useful jobs you can do now to help our wildlife friends survive the winter.  Here are our garden job suggestions for this month.


October is also a great time to plant evergreen shrubs and conifer hedges.  The soil is – just! – still warm enough to enable them to establish before the winter and before any potential growth spurts the spring may bring.  Not only is it a good time for the plants but it can be a great time to see the ‘bones’ of your garden, too, now that the froth of summer flowers has subsided, to see where extra shrubs might be needed.


If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse, now is a good time to have a thorough clear-out.  Chances are that your tomatoes and other summer crops are about finished, and it will be time to bring in plants that need over-wintering in sheltered conditions.  That change over makes the perfect time for a thorough clear-out.  Move everything out – or as much as you can – and have a thorough sweep to ensure there is no debris left that could harbour pests or diseases.  Wash the glazing inside and out (where you can reach) to make sure as much light still gets through as possible.  Household products like white vinegar and lemon juice have natural anti-bacterial properties if you want to have a thorough but safe clean. 

While your greenhouse is (largely) empty, it’s a good time to think about additional insulation ready for the winter.  Without plants to work around, measuring up now for a layer of bubble wrap or fleece on the inside can be useful preparation. If you haven’t got one already, consider attaching some guttering and a water butt to your greenhouse to save as much rain as you can.  (At time of writing, the summer’s hosepipe ban is still in place, reminding us all how precious water is). 


If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to bring in anything tender that will need protecting over the winter.  Tender perennials that you have planted in your beds and borders – like Gazanias and Coleus – will have a better chance of survival if carefully dug up, potted up and stored in a bright but frost-free place.  (If you had them in pots, you can just move the pot).  Tuberous plants, like Cannas and Dahlias, may survive milder winters in the ground, especially in our area.  However, to be sure, it’s worth considering lifting them, drying off the tubers and storing in a cool (but not cold) dark place until the spring.  If you have anything tropical looking, from Fuchsias to bananas and citrus plants, consider moving them too.  They will appreciate good light and minimal watering. You can bring more exotic specimens inside the house but exercise caution as they won’t like the hot, dry environments that central heating usually brings.

If you have hoses and irrigation systems, think about collecting them up, emptying them well and packing them away over winter.  The plants won’t need them, and it eliminates the risk of any residual water freezing and splitting pipes if left outside.

Cut and divide

October is a great time to take cuttings, both from hardwood, like ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as from shrubby herbs, like thyme and rosemary.  Choose a strong shoot that has grown this year and cut it with a sharp, clean knife.  Remove the growing tip and divide the shoot into roughly 15cm/6 inch lengths.  Remember which way up the cutting goes and firm it into the soil.  Cuttings can be grown in pots or in a sheltered spot outside.  For more advice on hardwood cuttings, try this from the RHS.

If you have more tender herbs, like lemon balm or chives, that have filled into large clumps, you can divide these clumps to make more plants.  Dig up the entire clump; if it’s smaller, you may be able to separate out mini-clumps just with your hands but bigger clumps will need a sharp spade to divide them.  Plant one new mini-clump back into the original hole and pot up the others for sharing or planting elsewhere.

With a new appreciation of gardens and outdoor spaces in recent years, most of us have also gained a new appreciation of the wildlife that we share them with.  Even small children understand the essential inter-connectedness of insects pollinating our food while attracting birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife to our gardens. So now is the time that we can pay nature back for its hard work over the summer by creating spaces that wildlife can survive over the winter.  (Find our blog on gardening for wildlife here).

While they are not being used, now is a great time to clean out and disinfect bird boxes.  Please use something chemical free, if you can, or ensure it is thoroughly rinsed and dried before you put it back in place.  Perhaps think about building a log pile in a hidden spot for wildlife to shelter in.  You may get a hibernating hedgehog (don’t disturb the pile to check!) but you may also get frogs and insects too.  (More predators to help eat the slugs and snails for us!)  If you cover ponds to stop falling leaves getting in, please check to ensure that wildlife can still access the water to drink without getting caught. 

As gardeners, there is perhaps a limit to the welcome we give wildlife… now is a good time to wrap a grease band around the trunk of any fruit trees, to prevent crawling winter moths climbing up, ready to lay their eggs in the new fruit next spring!

Further reading this month:
What to plant in October
To catch up on last month, check out our garden jobs for September
Or to get ahead on November’s jobs, find our tips here
For advice on dividing herbaceous perennials, click here
Tips on how to repair your lawn
Time to plan and plant a hedge




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”