Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Over the summer lawns have a tendency to accumulate thatch. Thatch is the layer of fallen blades that build an impenetrable barrier between the soil so that water and fertilizer can not reach the roots. Removing the thatch is as easy as raking over the surface briskly with a metal bow rake. It will tear up some of the living turf, but it will grow back quickly. Toss your gleanings into the compost pile.
Cut Back Over Grown Perennials
Mexican sage is one example of a perennial plant that gets out of control during the growing season. It's ok to cut it back to ground zero at this time of year. There is still enough warm weather to encourage a new flush of growth before the dormant season. Cut, fertilize and stand back!
Thyme, oregano, dill, tarragon, parsley and other common garden herbs can be harvested now for use during the long winter months. My favorite way to preserve the herb harvest is to lay them flat on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Once they are frozen, store in plastic bags in the freezer. Another way to preserve herbs is to fill ice cube trays with chicken stock, then add your favorite combination of herbs (chopped) for making sauces and stews.
Deep Water Trees and Shrubs
It's a long time before the winter rains begin in earnest. Use soaker hoses to deeply water trees and shrubs, redwood trees especially. Driving the roots down to the natural water table in the ground will help them survive and thrive until nature's faucet takes over sometime in December or January.
Save Those Coffee Grounds!
If you grow acid loving plants such as camellias, azaleas or rhododendrons feel free to dispose of used coffee grounds around the drip line. The grounds will improve soil texture and add acid to the soil, something these plants need to survive in our alkaline soil. Dibble the grounds into the top layer of soil if you don't like the look