October Gardening Activities - Region 2

Gardening Tips for October

Southwest, Desert, Interior Valleys and Southern California Gardens

Learn2Grow Region 2 Map

States in the region:

Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas (Western), Oklahoma (Western)
and California (Desert, Interior Valleys, Southern)

Key Issues for October

  • You’ve reached last call to control grubs in the lawn. As soil temperatures cool down in late fall, grubs go deeper into the soil, where they’ll spend the winter. Note: It’s when you see 10 or more grubs per square foot that you need to treat your lawn. As always, be sure to carefully read and follow all insecticide label directions.
  • Buy and plant spring-flowering bulbs now to enjoy later. Yes, there are even some hardy bulbs for the Southwest!
  • Fall is an ideal time to control broad-leaved weeds in the lawn. Doing this now helps eliminate some problems come spring. Your local Cooperative Extension office can recommend the best herbicides (weed killers) to use. Again, always read and follow label directions for proper, safe use.
  • Remember the H2O! Fall temps may get cooler, but your garden can still be exposed to long spans of dry, sunny weather. It’s particularly important that all newly planted perennials, groundcovers, trees and shrubs don’t dry out. The trick is to water deeply – not just at surface level – to establish self-sufficient plants.
  • Plant trees, shrubs, vines and perennials in your landscape. Planting in fall is a good idea, so plants can set roots before the onset of winter. (Be sure to water in all new transplants well!)
  • Change your container garden for the season: Replant your exhausted, crisp-from-summer, annual-filled planters with fresh soil and new cool-season annual color.
  • Turn an ordinary pumpkin into a beautiful fall planter.
  • Prepare garden beds and borders for fall planting: Remove spent summer annuals, as well as any finished plants in the kitchen garden. Add your disease-free yard waste to a compost pile.
  • Amend your garden soil. Aged manure, compost and other organic matter can be added to planting beds to help encourage healthy growth.
  • Rake fallen leaves before they have a chance to pile up on the lawn and collect in your landscape. In addition to giving your yard a tidy appearance, raking leaves helps keep your lawn healthy and prevents pests from finding hiding spots to spend the winter.
  • Visit your local botanical garden and take note of the fall plants that grow well in your area. Write down the names of the plants you like, then look them up in the Learn2Grow Plant Database to learn more about how to plant, care for and enjoy these beauties in your own garden.
  • Get ready for Halloween! Pumpkins take center stage when you create a unique pumpkin totem pole. Make it a fun day for the family: Pick your pumpkins, paint them, then see how they stack up!
  • Help the kids and grandchildren turn sweetgum seedpods into Halloween decorations. These “prickle balls” make cool bats and spiders!
  • Learn more about Halloween plants and lore and share your findings with family and friends.
  • Plant cool-season vegetables – the leaf and root types, like carrots, onions, kale and lettuce. (The cool months are especially better for growing lettuce because the leafy vegetable won’t be so inclined to bolt, as is the case in summer heat.)
  • Grow garlic in your vegetable garden this fall. Place the pointy end up, 1-3 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Your garlic should be ready to harvest and enjoy next summer.
  • Take care of your lawn: Fertilize according to package directions, water well (if rainfall isn’t adequate) and mow regularly (if your turf is actively growing). Remove lawn thatch or aerate as needed.
  • Start seeds of cool-weather annuals, including calendula, pansy, viola, alyssum, lobelia, dianthus and larkspur. You can also try some perennials like columbine, chrysanthemum, delphinium, foxglove, hollyhock, California poppy, nasturtium, snapdragon and early flowering sweet pea.
  • Cut back geraniums to encourage new growth this winter. Don’t be shy – reduce their height in half. Pruning blooming plants boosts the flower power!