By Jane Gates
Signal Staff Writer
Here comes cooler weather and the holiday season. November landscapes not only offer plenty of gardening jobs to do, but this is a perfect month to take a little time out to relax in the garden.
But first, I will repeat myself about how your landscape can help defend your home. As we have once again experienced, you can never be too prepared for wildfires. Keep your landscape pruned back and clean of blowing refuse to avoid breeding pests and building up material that could ignite in a wildfire. After decades living in Santa Clarita I just had my first chance to experience the stress of running before a wildfire — even in a built-up area. No one is immune!
Designing and maintaining a fire-conscious landscape can make your home more beautiful, more fun and productive — and safer!
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you set back your irrigation controllers. The days are short, most plants are going dormant or semi-dormant and temperatures are cooling. Your garden needs much less water than it did in the summer.
Check out all the fun new introductions in the growing world and consider experimenting with some plant varieties you’ve never grown. Try FlowerKisser™ After Midnight English Lavender or a new variety of the California Monardella villosa: Coyote Mint ‘Russian River’. Check out lots more at your favorite garden center and page through the new seed and plant catalogs online or in print.
Consider developing an unused piece of your property or renovating an existing part of the garden. November is a perfect time of the year to plan and build in your landscape design. The weather is cooler for working and professional help is more readily available than during the spring rush.
Start planting hardy plants and fill bare areas with native flower seed. Scatter wildflower seeds just before predicted rains so they will get a good start before the wildlife gobbles them up.
Continue to plant onion and garlic sets and other cool season crops like peas, cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard and Chinese greens. Root crops like beets, radishes and carrots can be seeded now, too.
Feed fish in ponds with winter food when water reaches 60 degrees and stop feeding them altogether when water temperatures fall below 50. Remove delicate water plants to a frost-free location. We haven’t had any real icy cold nights for the last few years, but they have been normal to our area in the past, so don’t get lulled by recent warmth.
Spread a layer of mulch over gardens to protect roots from cold nights and to hold in moisture from rain and irrigation.
Start pruning and trimming woody plants and roses so they are in good shape to start new growth by the end of the winter.
This is a good time of year to design replacements for water-thirsty lawns with more decorative, easier-care drought-resistant gardens. You could also add vegetable or herb gardens, permeable paving for play, sports or pets, or useful areas like patios, or sport courts.
Have fun decorating your landscape for the holidays, but keep safety in mind at all times. The holidays can be ideal times to put the garden to work for outdoor barbecues, visiting family or just a place to sneak out for a little rest and relaxation when stress starts to build up. Let your garden pay you back for all the work you’ve put into it over the year.