September and October Gardening Guidelines

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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 left over 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. Clean up areas of the vegetable garden which will lie fallow over winter. 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.

Resources sited:

General Guidelines

Garden Calendar, September 2

Garden Calendar, October 2

Soil Testing in NC

Soil Testing for Lawns and Gardens

Frost Dates

Average First and Last Frost Dates

General Vegetable Gardening Tips and Planning Fall Gardens

Plant a Fall Garden

Using Red Clover as a Cover Crop

Management of Red Clover as a Cover Crop

Root Pruning

Root Prune Summary




When to Plant Bulbs in the Fall