Garden Calendar for October 2020

Every year the October gardening calendar list differs somewhat – and this year it’s more different than ever! Summer 2020 has been a hard summer for plants – and people too.

Autumn Health

I was recently interviewed by a journalist writing for a Western Edition of Via – the AAA Magazine. She wanted to know why Autumn garden chores are important and which chores should not be skipped. This is what I told her.  For 2020 – due to the hot dry summer we had across most of the West and especially Southwest, providing a good deep watering to your trees and landscape plants is tops on the chores list.

Simply spritzing some water out of a hose is not the answer to providing ample water for landscape plants in our region.

Why Water?

With water and sunlight plants feed themselves. Not enough water and they start to starve. By watering your plants you give them the chance to become healthy and strong for the winter ahead – and whatever slings and arrows of fortune the last quarter of 2020 has in store for us.

A layer of mulch helps prevent evaporation. Notice how the mulch is NOT against the trunk of this tree. If you put mulch against the trunk you may get rodents or insects nibbling on the bark and harming the tree.

Just Water!

Only add water to your landscape. No fertilizer at this point! It is too close to first frost for most of my readers. You do not want to encourage extra new growth that will be damaged by frost.

No pruning either! Pruning encourages new growth that can be harmed by cold weather. Exception – plant parts that may harm people or property.

Tufted evening primrose is a low-growing groundcover that you could plant around your trees. Works as a living mulch and provides food for pollinators.


Early October is ideal for planting trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, bulbs, groundcovers, wildflowers, herbs, vegetables,,,, in short, everything! Go forth and plant! With a little work now, your yard will bloom all winter long.

Before planting seeds, check the “first frost” date for your area. Your local County Cooperative Extension Office should even have that information online, but it may take a call to their helpline. You need roughly six weeks for seeds to grow before frost hits them.

October 2020 Garden Tasks

Before mid-October

Treat alkaline-induced-iron-chlorosis especially in roses and citrus by acidifying the soil. (discussed more fully – here)
Sow wildflower seeds now for spring display. (Spring Wildflowers post – here)

Anytime during October

Plant some flowers for seasonal color, either as seeds, seedlings, or bulbs.
Vegetables!  Plant some cool season vegetables (last week – here).
Plant winter herbs — those in the carrot family. Cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, and more. (Sign up for the GardeningWithSoule newsletter to get notice of those posts!)

It’s not too late to plant wildflower seed for spring flowers.

Harvest pomegranates. They store well for over three months in a refrigerator.
Dethatch then overseed Bermudagrass lawns for winter green.
Reduce irrigation frequency once days no longer top 95 F.
Catch and remove the winter weeds as they germinate.

Cover Image is of the summer “male” rain that swept past and did not fall in our garden.

Learn More about Southwest Gardening

Please sign up for my newsletter and I will send you the latest free PDF guide to some aspect of gardening here in the Land of El Sol. Topic changes several times a year and all subscribers get the latest one!

More about what to do each month for your landscape/garden in this book Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt – but you must give proper credit to Gardening With Soule. You must include a link to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.



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