As the days become shorter and cooler, plant growth slows and gardens prepare for a much-deserved rest. With fewer daylight hours, water remains in the soil for a longer period of time, and less irrigation becomes necessary. Scale back the amount of time your irrigation system runs in the fall to avoid soggy conditions and mud. Some plants are particularly sensitive to overly wet soil, and root health may begin to decline if left standing in water for too long. Reducing your irrigation schedule will reduce your water bill and keep your garden looking good into the winter.
Now is the time to plan for a burst of spring! October/November is the time to plant bulbs. And here's a helpful hint: Bulbs thrive after the cool dark months of winter. Here in sunny California, you can trick them by placing them in a bag and letting them "hibernate" in a refrigerator for eight weeks. This "California" winter will produce a brilliant burst of color in your spring garden.
Falling leaves can replenish valuable nutrients in your garden soil. Rather than disposing of small, freshly fallen leaves, gather and use them as mulch in planting beds. They help to prevent soil erosion in the winter months and by spring they will have decomposed, creating nutrient-rich soil that aids in moisture retention throughout the warm, dry summer months.
As the year draws to a close, encourage your roses to go dormant by leaving spent flowers on the plants and refraining from adding fertilizer until spring. Fertilizers stimulate new plant growth, which is something you want to avoid in the cooler months. Frost and low temperatures can cause damage to fresh growth, so it’s best to give young stems and leaves a chance to “harden off,” or develop a thickened layer of tissue that protects them from the cold. Let your plants rest and recuperate starting in the fall, and your garden will be back in full swing come spring!