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.

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.

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.

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 hot and dry, with little to no growth. Remember that many native plants have adapted to California’s summer dry climate by going dormant.

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.