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Monthly Garden Checklist

Don't forget to be Water Wise! Check out our suggestions for conserving water in your garden.


  • Pull weeds brought on by recent rains now before they go to seed.
  • This is a good time to plant dormant fruit trees and roses.
  • Top dress tender plants with a mulch mix.
  • Keep the garden clean. Prune and cut back overgrown perennials, roses, and shrubs. Remove plants that haven't been doing well to make room for healthier ones.
  • Protect plants from frosty nights. Cover them and keep them watered - well-hydrated plants will hold up to the cold much better.
  • Indoors, heaters can dry out houseplants quickly. Don't forget to keep them watered.
  • Feed the birds in your garden.
  • Start artichoke, asparagus, rhubarb.
  • Start planning your summer garden now!


  • Now is the time to plant potatoes, garlic, onions, rhubarb, and asparagus.
  • Finish pruning roses, shrubs and trees. After pruning, be sure to clean your tools.
  • Prune and cut back perennials & ornamental grasses.
  • Prune lavender back to emerging new growth for best spike production this coming summer.
  • Shop now for citrus trees.
  • Continue to clean up winter debris from beds and containers.
  • If starting tomatoes from seed, now is the time to start them indoors.
  • Divide perennials such as daylily and yarrow. Re-plant them in bare spots around your garden.


  • Feed your garden with organic all-purpose plant fertilizer.
  • This is the best time to shop for rhododendrons and azaleas. Then feed them after they have flowered with organic azalea/camellia/gardenia fertilizer.
  • Continue to prepare planting beds for spring. Turn the soil and add at least 4 inches of compost. Test your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and add the appropriate fertilizer or supplement.
  • If you planted fava beans as acover crop in your garden, pull up the plants when half of the blooms have opened. This will give you the greatest return of nitrogen to your soil.
  • Feed citrus trees this month with granular citrus fertilizer.
  • Plant vegetable starts.
  • Check the nurseries for blooming and budding annuals for spring.
  • Plant gladiolus and dahlias for summer color.
  • Consider planting companion plants to provide an environment that welcomes beneficial insects. Choose cosmos, marigolds, nasturtiums, sunflowers and zinnas to attract bees.
  • If you must water, do so early in the morning to prevent wet foliage at night. Wet foliage attracts snails and fungal diseases.


  • Prune back herbaceous perennials (example: salvia), to promote plant bushiness.
  • Plant edibles like lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, zucchini and berries. Sow bean, corn, cucumber, melon, and winter squash seeds directly into the ground. Consider a soaker hose to conserve water in your vegetable garden.
  • Transplant tomato seedlings:  Pinch off all but the top two pairs of leaves and set the seedling into a deep hole. Backfill, keeping the top leaves above soil.
  • Work your cover crops into the soil before they seed.
  • Don’t use insecticides in your garden – you may be harming bees and beneficial insects that actually help control aphids, mites, whiteflies, and other garden pests.
  • Remove aphids from plants with a strong stream of water.
  • Handpick snails and slugs, or use non-toxic slug bait.
  • Start planting summer annuals like lobelia, begonia, marigolds, cosmos, petunias, snapdragon and alyssum.
  • Plant gladiolus, dahlias & lilies for summer blooms.


  • Plant late summer edibles such as pumpkins, squash, sunflowers, peppers, basil and melons.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after bloom is past
  • Release ladybugs and other beneficial insects to help control aphids, mites, whiteflies, and other garden pests.
  • Let self-seeding annuals go to seed instead of deadheading. New seedlings will appear for another crop of summer flowers.
  • Keep your strawberry crop clean by spreading bark mulch around the plants, lifting the flowers and leaves above the mulch. This will also reduce watering needs and cut down on weeds.
  • Harvest radishes when the crown begins to show above the soil. Avoid “split” radishes by going easy on the watering.
  • If you've planted new potatoes, dig them as soon as the plants begin to bloom. Start by gently bringing up the soil with a pitchfork about a foot away from the plant; separate out the tubers by hand.
  • Read how to improve your garden soil with organic matter.
  • Learn about beneficial insects – the ones you should encourage to stay in your garden (and why).


  • This is a good time to plant beans, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins (start now for Halloween), summer squash, and tomatoes. These warm-season plants need lots of irrigation: take this into consideration and plant only as many as you need and can water consistently all summer.
  • Check the irrigation system: Turn on the irrigation system and inspect sprinklers to see if they're working properly. Replace any broken heads; clean out clogged ones. To readjust a head that is misaligned, rotate the head until it sprays in the right direction.
  • Feed tomato plants with a low-nitrogen fertilizer when the fruit starts to develop; too much nitrogen encourages more foliage and less fruit. Mulch the tomato plants to conserve moisture.
  • The California Garden Web has valuable information about dealing with pests and problems on roses


  • Grow herb seedlings in well-draining soil in a location getting 4-to-6 hours of sun.
  • for tomato plants that produce large slicing tomatoes, thinning fruit will encourage plants to produce larger tomatoes. This will also reduce the weight on fragile branches.
  • Water mature trees deeply during this drought.
  • To get the most blooms on dahlias, cut back the center stems; this will encourage more lateral branches.
  • Garlic is ready to harvest when leaves begin to turn yellow and die back. Shake off the dirt and store them in a cool, dry place. When the bulbs are dry (3 to 4 weeks), clean with a soft brush, cut off the stems and roots, and store in a cool dark place.
  • Cactus and succulents are drought tolerant, but many appreciate some water in very hot weather. Also, succulents may find full sun to be too strong in some locations, so provide them with some shade if they appear to be struggling.
  • Mulch garden and vegetable beds to protect them from summer heat, reduce watering needs, and keep the weeds down.
  • Got whiteflies? Control them with sticky traps, increase air circulation by thinning out dense branches and/or foliage, and use earth worm castings to discourage them.
  • "Deadheading" faded flowers encourages new blooms.


  • Maintain drip irrigation for most effective water use: check for leaks or missing/broken emitters.
  • Begin sowing seeds for cool-season crops, such as beets, turnips, cabbage, radishes, broccoli, peas, kale, collard, spinach, arugula, and lettuces.
  • Water container-grown citrus trees once a week, or more often if the weather turns hot.
  • Remove runners from strawberries to promote buds for next year, and to have a stronger mother plant.
  • Plan your vegetable garden for crop rotation to avoid re-planting the same types of plants in the same area two seasons in a row.
  • Prune fruit trees to control height, maintain shape and eliminate suckers.


  • In our area, this is a good time to start planting bulbs for spring.
  • Plant garlic cloves, 2 inches deep and 3-to-6 inches apart.
  • There is still time to plant cool-season vegetables. See a list of good candidates in August.
  • As you pull up veggie plants that are no longer producing, compost only those that show no sign of disease.
  • Plant colorful fall flowers: Pansies, Violas, Mums, Stock, Snapdragons, Iceland Poppies and Cyclamen.
  • Fertilize azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons with fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
  • As fruit grows on second-year growth, cut back fruited canes of raspberries, leaving new canes for fruiting next year. 


  • Feed hydrangeas with acidifier for bluer blooms. Feed with agricultural lime to turn them pink.
  • Plant bulbs now for spring blooms.
  • Fall is a great time to plant natives. Check the UC Davis Arboretum website for ideas.
  • Plant garlic and shallots now for a summer harvest.
  • Prepare planting beds for winter: clear out weeds and rocks. Add soil amendments and/or plant winter cover crops such as fava beans to replace nitrogen in the soil.
  • Add fallen leaves and plant debris to your compost pile. Or, leave them on the ground to serve as a natural mulch for your garden.


  • Weather permitting, many of the October garden activities can continue into November.
  • There's still time for fall planting of shrubs, trees, and perennials before the winter rains arrive (we hope!) Winter rains will help the new plantings to establish good root systems.
  • Cool-season vegetable seedlings can be planted: cabbage, kale, chard, spinach for example. Also, carrots may be seeded now.
  • Remove dead or diseased limbs from trees and shrubs.
  • If you are putting away your garden tools for the winter, first give them a good cleaning. Rub with alcohol after each use to prevent the spread of disease. Prevent rust with a light coating of lubricant grease (such as lithium grease). Shovels and saws may be stored in a bucket of sand with a little oil (5 parts sand to 1 part oil).
  • Control slugs and snails with an organic, pet/animal- and food-safe slug bait.


  • Indoors, keep holiday greens well watered or mist daily. Keep trees and greens away from hot sunny windows and heat sources. Poinsettias should be kept away from heat sources. If you’re using poinsettias to decorate outdoors, bring them in out of the cold at night.
  • Take advantage of the rain we get this month. December is still a great time to plant perennials, shrubs and trees to get roots established which will promote lush spring growth.
  • Plant some cool-season annuals, like violas, primroses, and pansies.
  • Keep an eye out for frost warnings. Be prepared to cover with frost Blanket for protection. Note: remove frost blankets during the daytime hours. Keep plants watered during this time.
  • Feed the birds: keep those feeders full.
  • Select bare-root roses for a summer rose garden.
  • You CAN plant vegetables in winter! See our Year-round Vegetable Planting Schedules for San Mateo and San Francisco Counties for what can be grown now in your area.
  • Now is a good time to plant chilled tulip bulbs. Chilled bulbs may grow taller with larger flowers than non-chilled bulbs.
  • Clean up the garden – remove excessive leaf litter, etc. – to avoid over-wintering diseases.
  • Sow wildflowers seeds now for instant spring color.
  • Start planning your spring garden now!