Prepping Your Desert Yard for Fall and Winter

A desert house with front yard landscaping.

Gardening during the fall in the desert is very different from gardening in other climates. While the leaves are falling in other places and plants are preparing to sleep during the winter, fall can be the best time of year for gardening in the desert. The harsh sun begins to ease its wrath, but the ground stays nice and warm. This makes it easier to keep the ground moist and plants happy.

Tidy Up the Garden

Fall is the perfect time to clean up your yard or garden. Remove any fallen leaves, branches, or other debris and compost or discard them. Get rid of all of the weeds now, so they do not have a chance to spread their seed and become a bigger nuisance in the spring. Prevent weeds from spreading by pulling them up from the roots and tilling the garden. Make sure to till around any plants you wish to keep in place. After a good rain, while the ground is still moist, cultivate the surface of any garden or flowerbed by raking it loose, at least six inches deep. This should kill any weeds that might soon pop up.

Plan Ahead

Create a sketch of how you would like your garden to be set up for next spring. Take into account any flowers with bulbs, or plants that will return next year. Since fall is a terrific planting season in the desert, planning ahead will ensure your spring garden will run smoothly.

Before putting your garden to sleep for the winter, make sure your garden is moist and fertilized. No need to add lime or other substances to alkalinize to the soil here--all you need is some good fertilizer. Whether you’re fertilizing that marvelous tree in your front yard, preparing for next season’s flower bed, or planting a fall vegetable garden, make sure to fertilize now to reap the full benefits of your supercharged soil.


Plants that would otherwise die in cooler climates during fall and winter grow surprisingly well in the desert. Green, leafy vegetables such as swiss chard, spinach, arugula, broccoli, and herbs can grow quite well during the fall months before the frosts come, late in the season.

Order any bulbs or seeds for fall planting ahead of time to ensure you are able to grow the plants you desire. Sometimes quantities are limited this time of year, especially in the desert.


While it may seem the time of year to ease up on gardening habits as the weather begins to cool, do not cease your outdoor care. Make sure all plants have plenty of water--keep the ground moist while the weather is warm. Otherwise, bulbs and seeds cannot fertilize and grow to provide you with a fall harvest of flowers or food.

Prune larger plants by getting rid of old leaves and branches that might steal the water supply. This helps new leaves and branches to grow. If you keep up with your gardening routine through the fall, you’ll be surprised at the outcome in just a few months.