Seasonal Maintenance

Salvia spathacea and cultivars (hummingbird sage)


Fall is the time for plant growth, seed germination, cooler temperatures, and rain.

Fall through spring is the ideal time to plant native plants. But late fall is the best time so that plants can take advantage of winter rains. This is a great time to replace any plants in your landscape. Evaluate any plants that aren’t doing well and need replaced, or places you need to add, then choose plants similar to the water, soil, and light needs of the other plants in that location.

Sow your wildflower seeds in late fall, winter, or very early spring. Seeds will germinate with rain, grow through winter, and bloom in the spring.

Native plants naturally evolved to thrive in lean soils lacking nitrogen, so a native plant garden doesn’t require fertilizer. But if you want to feed your soil, apply an all-purpose organic fertilizer from October through early Spring; the rains help the soil absorb it.


Winter is the cooler, rainy season when roots establish and plants grow. It’s also a good time for clean-up and general maintenance around the site. This will keep your site looking intentional and organized. Remulch as needed, clean up edges while plants are dormant and not flowering, and prune as needed.

You can prune evergreens after they bloom and prune deciduous trees while they are dormant, usually in the winter. Very little pruning is needed during the first year a plant is growing, but with mature plants, artfully pruning during their time between flowering and new growth is key. Learn more about pruning here.

You will need to water plants in the winter if rains are sparse, and especially during the first year of planting to help them get established.


Rains slow down in the spring, temperatures warm, plants flower and continue to develop roots. Spring is the time to evaluate what the gardens needs will be depending on if it was a wet or dry winter. If it was especially dry you’ll need to be prepared for more water. If it was wet, you may need to do more clean up and organizing.

Weeding is a year-round task, but pay attention around spring. Mustards, clovers, pop weeds, and more grow in the cool season.

Mulch after planting in late spring and early fall, create a 2-3” layer. Make sure not to touch the stems or trunks of plants with mulch. Keep some bare areas for ground-dwelling native bees too!


Summer is hotter and dry, with little to no growth. Remember that many native plants have adapted to California’s summer-dry climate by going dormant. Take can to keep dry grasses trimmed as needed.

This is the time to slow down and enjoy your garden. You will need to weed warm-season growth, like Bermuda grass. Consider using sheet mulching for difficult weeds. Summer is also a good time for sheet mulching to remove lawn so the ground is ready for fall planting. Remember, summer is for planning, so start thinking about what you want to plant come fall.