Here in Southern California, we don’t experience a harsh winter, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to transition your garden into the cooler months. In fact, because our winters are so mild, now is the perfect time to try some new cooler-season plantings and to continue enjoying your garden. A gardener’s November checklist is brief, but an important way to have a safe winter and lush spring!
Clean up leaves. If you have deciduous trees on your property, you will experience a fall leaf drop. You can choose to clean these continuously or wait until all leaves have fallen and perform one big cleanup. It’s a good idea to mulch leaves for later use in beds (see our other blogs on good uses of leaves). Some homeowners prefer to simply leave them on the ground, and that’s okay too. Decomposing leaves add carbon and nitrogen back to the soil and contribute to the growth of beneficial soil microbes.
Address fire safety. One way to fireproof your home is to create a buffer around your property. Remove dead leaves, vegetation, and other flammable materials within thirty feet of the house. Prune back tree limbs that have grown too close to the structure, mow or trim dried ornamental grasses to a height of four inches and eliminate any fuel sources. If trees are overcrowded, this is a good time to address necessary tree trimming chores.
Adjust your irrigation system. With cooler temperatures and increased precipitation (we hope) in the forecast, you can dial down the irrigation system. If your beds contain California natives, succulents, dormant ornamental grasses, and low-water shrubs or trees, you can usually turn off the system entirely until spring. Keep an eye on plant health and adjust accordingly.
Clean up your perennials. Now is the time to pull out dead leaves or rotting stems, and to divide over-crowded perennials like daylilies, asters, and yarrow.
Plant. In November, you can set out cool-season perennials like violas and pansies, to enjoy blooms throughout winter and into spring. The cool season is also a good time to plant many types of California natives if you would like to fill in bare spots with a low-maintenance species.
If you would like assistance in choosing some cool-season perennials or California natives for your garden, come to see us at our nursery. We can help you choose the right plants for your needs and offer more input on proper planting and care of your selections.