October Yard and Garden Tips

What to do in your Tucson-Area Yard in October

Tucson meet yourself banner and downtown

Tucson Meet Yourself takes place in Downtown Tucson each October

October in Tucson. While other parts of the country are bracing for the cold and preparing to hunker down for winter, October in Tucson is when there are a myriad of options for things to do.

It can involve trying a variety of foods and experiencing many cultures at Tucson Meet Yourself, going on extended bike rides to prepare for El Tour de Tucson next month, visiting the myriad of craft sales, or just enjoying the pleasant temperatures and beautiful weather that this month brings (not to mention all of the plant sales!).

On top of the many events and activities that occur this month, October is the perfect time to work on your yard and garden.

Now is the ideal time to plant trees, shrubs, and cactus, readjust your watering schedule, start your winter garden, and much more!

Below we’ve outlined some of the things you might want to prioritize this month. Plus, check out our list of vegetables, flowers, and seeds to plant in October.

What to do in your Tucson Yard in October

The temperatures are lowering, and you can spend more time outdoors without overheating. Expect lots of flowering shrubs this time of year, so you may notice hummingbirds and butterflies in your yard, especially if you have pollinator-friendly shrubs and flowers.

Adjust your irrigation

To prepare your plants for the cooler nighttime temperatures to come, reduce your watering frequency (rather than the length of time/amount of water) for established trees, shrubs, and hardy perennials. By next month, larger trees and shrubs may only need to be watered once or twice a month.

Cutting back on irrigation begins the “hardening off” process that will ensure your outdoor plants are ready for the change in the seasons.

Annuals and newly-planted shrubs or trees will still need plenty of water this month, although probably somewhat less than in September. Newly-seeded lawns will also need consistent watering to get established.

irrigation controller being adjusted to reduce frequency in October

Reduce your irrigation frequency by one third in October. This helps your plants prepare for cooler weather.

Prepare for colder weather

Speaking of outdoor plants, check on any plants in containers; cold-sensitive plants and succulents should be taken indoors for the winter

Now is a good time to get your frost cloths out of storage, as frost could arrive in the next month. The average first frost date in Tucson is mid-November, although it depends where you live (higher elevations in the foothills will likely see frost earlier). The first hard freeze is usually in mid-December. This interactive first frost date map will help you find the expected date in your neighborhood (zoom in on the map or scroll down the page to find your location).

Keep an eye on tender perennials such as citrus, hibiscus (you may want to bring some of the more tender ones indoors), and bougainvillea and be ready to cover them if an early frost is predicted.

It’s time to plant!

If you’ve been wanting to add any trees or shrubs to your yard, October is a great time to plant in Tucson! Cactus can be planted now too, but wait to plant any palm trees until warmer weather.

While you’re at the local garden center, pick up some annuals to plant as well. If you’re outside more now that the weather is nice, might as well spruce up your yard a bit!

apple tree in pot being planted in Tucson in October

Now is the perfect time to plant trees in Tucson! This Anna apple tree from Green Things should produce fruit next year.

Reseed your lawn

If you have Bermuda grass in your yard, mow it to a half an inch and then plant rye seed. Overseeding with rye grass ensures you have a green yard during the winter months.

Wait until the daytime temperatures are consistently below 90 degrees and overnight temperatures are in the 60’s before sowing winter grass seed. This may mean waiting until later in October to overseed your lawn; don’t rush it or you may need to resow.

What not to do this month

  • Don’t plant palm trees. They should be planted during the summer when the ground and air are both warm.
  • Don’t fertilize for the next few months. You don’t want to encourage more growth that will just be whacked by frost in another month or two.
  • If you have grass, don’t water the lawn when it is dark outside; doing so could encourage fungal growth.
  • Don’t do any major pruning just yet; wait until shrubs and trees are dormant in January or February. A little light pruning if needed is fine but don’t overdo it.

Vegetables to Plant in October

Some of our favorite vegetables to plant this month include potatoes (not sweet potatoes, though), garlic, celery, and salad greens. See more vegetables to plant in this post.

lettuce growing in Tucson in late October

Now is a great time to plant salad greens! Shown are varieties of lettuce growing in a Vegepod planter.

Herbs to plant in October

mint plant

Mojitos, anyone? Plant some mint in your Tucson garden.

So many herbs, so little time! Lavender, mint, oregano and more can all be planted now. Learn what other herbs do well when planted in October here.

Flowers to plant in October

Now is the perfect time to plant wildflowers so that they cover your yard in spring. There are many other flowers you can plant now, head to this post to learn more.

Seeds to plant in October

carrot seeds from Renee's Garden - sow them in October

While some plants need to start out as seedlings this month, others can be sown as seeds. Learn which ones do best when planted in Tucson in October.


What to do in your Tucson Yard & Garden in November >>

Sarah Bohl

Sarah loves exploring all that Tucson has to offer. She enjoys hiking on Mount Lemmon, trying out the new restaurants, meeting new friends at Tucson Meet Yourself, and finding new things to appreciate about the Old Pueblo.


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