Prepare for Fall in Southern California

sun setting on an ocean under a wooden pier

Is your Southern California yard ready for autumn? With the colorful season come the falling leaves, drying palm fronds, and other fall garden projects. This balmy spot may not have much of a harsh winter, but temps can still dip below freezing, so it's worth making some preparations. Here's a handy checklist to work through as you say a fond goodbye to SoCal summer.

Fall Garden Color

This is a good time to do some outdoor fall planting, since the garden is probably looking a little worse for wear after a long, hot, dry summer. Think about adding some color for immediate oomph with such plants as vinca and zinnias—both can stand late summer heat.


In Southern California, you can also plant herbs year-round such basil, parsley, and thyme. Place them in colorful fall-colored containers and pots on your patio and use these fan favorites throughout the season and into winter.

bundled herbs on a blank background


As summer turns to fall, it's a good time to plant cooler seasonal vegetables such as lettuce, kale, broccoli and cauliflower, all popular fall favorites you will use for cooking hearty meals. Go ahead and save seeds from any of your summer plantings such as cilantro, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, and squash.

Spring Bulbs

Don’t forget to plant spring-flowering bulbs in the fall such as freesia and hyacinth, buttercups, daffodils, and iris. Other choices include annual pansies and snapdragons in beautiful autumn colors. Plant now and you'll reap the rewards next spring!

female hands planting bulbs

Trees and Shrubs

Fall is also the best time to plant your favorite trees and shrubs. Since California has mild winters, it gives time for plants to develop roots, and to get used to their surroundings.


A popular and easy choice for SoCal gardens, succulents are beautiful and need very little water to thrive. They come in all kinds of fun shapes, colors and textures, and can flourish in containers or in the ground.

Pool Maintenance

Make sure the pool is kept free of leaves, palm fronds, and any flying flower blooms, as these will clog filters and drains. Scrub the tiles along the lip line of your pool after a long summer of oils, potions, and suntanning products. Check chemical levels while you're at it, and consider turning off the heater if your pool is going into hibernation for the chilly months.

Patios and Decks

Use a power washer to scrub down all decks and patio areas from summer barbecues and outdoor parties, and celebrations before the cooler nights arrive. It might be a good time to seal your deck if it's in need of a new coat.

Patio Furniture

Clean and wipe down all patio furniture with a homemade organic cleanser appropriate for the materials. For example, for metal you should just use a soft liquid detergent and water.

stylish wicker patio furniture

Window Washing

Washing windows right before the rainy season in Southern California is easy with a solution of soap, lukewarm water, a squeegee and some clean rags. That should easily remove all the dust and bird droppings left behind by the summer season.

Weeds and Deadheading

Take time to deadhead all lingering dead flowers you haven’t had the time to remove, along with picking weeds that have accumulated over the summer. You can use both for composting material.

Gutter Cleaning

Climb on a ladder and scoop out the dead leaves and other debris. It’s important to remove these items before the rainy season begins, as they can clog gutters and cause water damage to your walls.


Use steel wool to remove the crusty leftovers of summer meals from your barbecue, and for good measure, wash down the cover and replace your propane tanks.

You did it! As another year tiptoes toward a close, reward yourself for all your work with some fun fall activities!