Can Grass Clippings Cause Grass To Grow In Flower Beds Southern California Gardening Can Take a Back Seat To Holiday Festivities in December

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Southern California Gardening Can Take a Back Seat To Holiday Festivities in December

December is the ideal month to take a break from gardening and enjoy the holidays, but for those who love to garden regardless of the season, there is still plenty to do.

Turn off the automatic sprinklers: Most cities prohibit watering for 48 hours after a rain, but you can usually wait longer to start watering again. Rain usually saturates the soil much better than sprinklers. Turn off the automatic sprinklers and let the weather be your watering guide, or install a soil moisture sensor so the sprinklers turn on only when needed.

Fill in the bare spots on the lawn: Add grass seed to bare spots in your lawn. Place the dressing mixture over the seeds to protect them from birds and promote germination. The winter rains, if they come, will give the seeds the water they need to grow. Keep in mind, however, that if dry conditions continue, you will need to water the seeds to encourage growth.

Trim weak tree branches: Winter often brings strong winds that can break tree branches. Inspect trees for weakened branches or branches that could damage property if they fall. Now remove the limbs.

Get to the bottom of curling leaves on fruit trees: Curling citrus leaves can be caused by a number of problems: insects such as aphids, overwatering (or underwatering), and nutrient deficiencies. Take a sample of curled leaves to a professional garden nursery for diagnosis and a suggested remedy to keep your trees healthy until spring.

Plant dormant deciduous fruit trees: At the end of December, it is time to plant young dormant deciduous fruit trees. They are available at reasonable prices because they often come without soil (bare root). Deciduous fruit trees need cool nights (below 45 degrees) to encourage buds to bloom and produce. Some trees need cooler nights than others. Fruits that do particularly well in the more temperate climate of Southern California include varieties of apples, apricots, blueberries, sweet cherries, figs, and varieties of nectarines and peaches.

Add room color with plants: December means partying during the holidays. Add festive interior color with seasonal plants such as poinsettias and blooming chrysanthemums, lilies, anthers, begonias, cyclamen and African violets. These plants do not mind low lighting. Keep them away from heaters and fireplaces.

Start a compost pile: Make your own compost pile. Add equal parts carbon and nitrogen: leaves and prunings from shrubs and trees (carbon) and grass clippings, flowers, coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps (nitrogen). Choose a 3′ x 3′ site with good drainage. Start with a layer of leaves, then green materials and food scraps, a layer of soil, then more leaves and wood materials. Turn the pile over every few weeks so that it is well aerated and does not overheat. Consider putting a tarp over your compost pile when it rains. This will prevent the pile from getting wet and will retain the heat necessary for microbes to break down the material. By spring you will have fresh compost for your garden.

Attack the weeds: One rain storm can cause weeds to grow. Keep weeds under control by placing a layer of mulch in flower and vegetable beds.

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