Gardening Guidelines for September and October

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General Yard and Garden Information and Tasks

  • Clean garden tools, sprayers, and other lawn equipment for winter storage. Triple rinse spray tanks.
  • Soon it will be time to move houseplants back inside. Check for your area’s first frost date. Inspect plants and pots for insect pests before taking inside.
  • To prepare for next year’s growing season, collect and submit soil samples for testing with the Cooperative Extension Service. This service is free until about Thanksgiving.
  • As leaves begin to fall, collect them for the compost bin. It is best to chop them somewhat with a mower to facilitate decomposition.
  • Store leftover fertilizers in a dry location for use next spring.


  • September is a good time to set out landscape plants. Shop early to get best selection.
  • When planting containerized plants, be sure to disturb the roots, spreading them out in the prepared hole.
  • Transplant any evergreen trees or shrubs that need moving.

Vegetable Gardens

  • Plant these cold-hardy vegetables: beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. Check the resources below to learn how and when to plant these vegetables.
  • Clean up areas of vegetable garden which will lie fallow overwinter. Remove dead vegetative matter. Consider planting a cover crop such as barley, annual rye, red clover, or wheat.
  • If you do not plant cover crops, incorporate chopped leaves and other organic material into beds with a tiller.

Shrubs and Trees

  • Do not prune trees or shrubs this time of year.
  • Root prune any trees or shrubs you intend to transplant next spring.


  • Tall fescue and bluegrass should be seeded in September and early October. Mulch newly seeded areas, and keep watered.
  • Fertilize and lime tall fescue lawns per soil test results.
  • Do NOT fertilize warm-season grasses this time of year.
  • Keep leaves from collecting on lawn to protect it from injury.

Annuals, Perennials, and Bulbs

  • Set out chrysanthemums now.
  • Ground covers will become well established if planted now.
  • Plant pansies for months of color in the yard.
  • Spring flowering bulbs can be divided and replanted now.
  • Purchase spring-flowering bulbs to plant in October. When planting, fertilize with a balanced product.
  • Cut back herbaceous perennials after frost has killed the tops.
  • Divide and transplant crowded clumps of spring and summer flowering perennials.



General Guidelines:

Soil Testing in NC:

General Vegetable Gardening Tips and Planning Fall Gardens:

Using Red Clover as a Cover Crop:

Root Pruning:



Becky Garrett is a Master Gardener℠ Volunteer with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.