A California garden in September. Original photo on Houzz

By Lauren Dunec Hoang | Houzz

From September to the middle of fall, California enjoys some of the year’s best weather: cooler evenings followed by warm days, when the sun washes the hillsides with golden light. It’s a perfect season for planting. Planted perennials, ornamental grasses, lawns, shrubs and trees now settle easily into the warm soil, and will then use the cool winter months to establish their root systems. By spring, they’ll be ready to burst into growth.

Aside from getting ahead for next spring, there’s plenty to do now to reap instant rewards in the garden, such as refreshing beds with fall blooms and growing quick and easy crops like radishes and lettuces.

Plant perennials for color now. As you pull out annuals and cut back tired perennials from summer beds, fill holes with fresh late-season colorful perennials from the nursery. Select plants that are budding or just beginning to bloom to enjoy almost instant results. 20 Pretty Perennials to Plant for Fall Landscapes.

A few colorful late-summer perennials to consider:
Sneezeweed (Helenium spp.)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Blanketflower (Gaillardia spp.)
Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)
‘Autumn Joy’ stonecrop (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’)
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum spp.)

Try plants with burgundy and deep purple foliage. Another way to give washed-out beds a fall refresh is by deepening the color palette. Here, the mauve flower-like bracts and deep purple leaves of Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ add richness to a Northern California front yard, along with silvery ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue (Fescue glauca ‘Elijah Blue’) and orange New Zealand wind grass (Anemanthele lessoniana). Other ideas for deep purple foliage: red-leaved Japanese maples (Acer palmatum), purple Chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense) and purple-bronze New Zealand flax (Phormium spp.).

Start your cool-season veggies. In beds that receive full sun, plant starts of chard, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and collard greens from the nursery. Plant root vegetables (carrots, radishes, beets) from seed.

Quick-growing salad greens (including lettuces, spinach, endive and mizuna) can be grown from either plant starts or seed. Try planting a colorful mix of deep red and purple lettuces and bright chartreuse lettuces, like romaine and butter lettuce varieties, in waves to form a border. These greens are just as attractive as ornamental plants but with far tastier rewards.

Keep an eye out for giant squashes. Most squash vines are a tangle this time of year, with sprawling stems and plenty of broad, scratchy leaves. It’s easy to miss zucchinis hiding beneath the foliage, and discover them only once they’re the size of baseball bats. Do a routine check for monster squashes, and pick the soft-skinned varieties when they’re small and tender. Leave hard-skinned squashes such as gourds and pumpkins on the vine until the stem turns hard and brown and the squash makes a hollow sound when thumped. You can also cut back exuberant squash foliage to expose pumpkins to more sun and deepen their color. Pest Control Services in San Diego.

Refresh containers. Spruce up entryway containers with plants that will look good now and will last through fall and into winter. Here, plum-leaved coral bells (Heuchera sp.), wiry bronze grasses and blooming confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) create a fragrant autumn arrangement. With the addition of a few pumpkins set at the base of the pots next month, this display would be ready for Halloween.

Fill holes in your landscape with shrubs and trees. Fall is a great time to tackle those bigger-ticket-item planting projects, such as planting trees and shrubs. While it may be tempting to grab the largest tree or shrub at the nursery, younger plants often adapt faster to being planted out. They’re less root-bound, and they have quicker growth rates than plants that have been hanging out at the nursery too long.

Once you’ve selected a tree or shrub to plant, dig a hole a little deeper than the rootball and three times as wide. Settle the new plant into the hole, backfill with soil and water it in, adjusting the plant height if any sinking occurs.

Plant bulbs. Head to the nursery early in the month for the best selection of daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, snow drops and muscaris. If you’re picking up more than a few bags of bulbs, it’s probably worth it to get a bulb-planting tool that makes getting bulbs in the ground almost effortless.

To form bright clumps and swaths of color next spring, plant bulbs closer than you think they should be. In the ground they can be 2 to 4 inches apart for dense color; in pots, bulbs can be almost touching.

Try solarizing weeds. Use the lingering summer heat and abundant sunshine to combat weeds that have gotten out of hand. This entirely chemical-free method involves covering the soil and using the sun to heat it to 99 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, killing weeds, weed seeds and some soil-borne pathogens. This solarizing method will put an area of your garden out of commission for weeks, but it can be a very effective way to get on top of weeds without resorting to chemical methods.

Replace your lawn or reduce its size. If you’re looking to curb landscape water use, fall is the best time to replace a lawn with more drought-friendly alternatives. The newly planted mix of low-water blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae) and ‘Blue Glow’ agave (Agave ‘Blue Glow’) seen here in a Los Angeles garden serves the same visual purpose as a traditional lawn, providing a sweep of color where the eye can rest, but needs a fraction of the water.

Still want the look of a traditional lawn but with less water and maintenance? Try a “no mow” mix of native California fescues that forms a green carpet but is less thirsty than traditional turf. Mow it regularly if you like the neat and tidy look or just a few times a year for a mounded meadow-style lawn. Try Tiki Torches to Keep the Summer Vibe Going.

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