December is a great month to take advantage of mild winter weather and work in the garden.
Although it rarely happens, check weather reports daily for frost warnings. Remember: The west end of the valley is warmer than the east valley. A forecast might call for warm and sunny in Palm Springs on the same day a frost hits Thermal.
Begin harvesting citrus trees sparingly. Fruit left on the tree will sweeten as the season progresses. Hold off fertilizing citrus trees because the resulting foliage flush is particularly frost sensitive. Wait until spring.
- Build raised beds to get ready for 2021 gardening. Add organic matter into the soil to provide plants with optimum growing conditions. If space is an issue, containers work well. Or, set up a vertical trellis in a location with at least eight hours of full sun daily.
- If you have large expanses of gravel surrounding your home, replace some of the area with low-water use groundcovers and shrubs. Place plants at the base of structures to cut down on reflected heat and light, reducing cooling costs inside.
- Grow plants in colorful pots you decorate yourself to give as holiday gifts.
What to plant
Perennials and accent plants such as cacti, succulents and ornamental grasses can replace annual beds. Use as many locally native plants as possible. That way you support the pollinators and other wildlife that depend on them for survival.
For more ideas
“Lush and Efficient: Desert-Friendly Landscaping in the Coachella Valley” lists more than 300 plants with over 800 photos. You can search by several dozen categories. Find the 160-page book at CVWD.org/386/CVWD-Store for $10 with free shipping. Or, look at a PDF of the book at CVWD.org, click on Conservation.