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Fall planting. Many plants will appreciate being transplanted in October, since mild temperatures and still-warm soils permit optimal plant growth.
In the middle and high zones, wait until spring to plant heat-loving to tender perennials, like Lantana and some broad-leaved evergreen trees and shrubs (including evergreen oak species and India hawthorn). It's unlikely they will establish before colder weather, an planting them in the fall can result in severe damage to foliage and newer branches.
Those in the low zone can still plant most of the species the higher zones cannot, since adequate root development is likely before colder weather strikes.
Turfgrass. No matter your zone, it is too late in the year to plant or seed any warm-season lawns or turf, such as Zoysia or Bermudagrass. The exception is cool-season turf for the oasis areas of middle and high zones, which can be sodded with proper soil preparation and regular irrigation.
Manage water. Continue to monitor and reset the timers on any controllers you may have, especially in the low and middle zones. As temperatures decrease, reduce the water needed.
If you are planning a landscape for a barren area or for an area outside plant roots, create water harvesting opportunities to benefit plantings and some visual interest by installing subtle basins, swales and berms away from structures, where lush plantings are desired.
Consider capturing and storing stormwater for reuse as landscape irrigation during the inevitable dry periods to come. While the costs of larger systems often exceed those of potable gallon for gallon, it may be worthwhile to explore for future needs and changes in water availability. This is especially true in upland areas far from municipal water sources.
And as it's late in the growing year, don't overwater — it will encourage too much late-season growth.
Protect plants from nibbling rabbits. Rabbits in desert regions like to find cool and moist things to eat. In drier seasons, they are fond of devouring plants they often avoid in wetter years; new plants are always quite palatable, including many prickly pear cacti.
While some plant species are more resistant to rabbits than others, the only plants I know of that are rabbitproof are ocotillo and rosemary. Protection is worth its time and cost. Create chickenwire "cages" with three to four stakes just beyond the new plants' foliage, to prevent rabbits from nibbling. Such protection must be removed as the plant grows, however.
Some areas also have javelina (wild pigs), which are particularly fond of a number of plants and can be very destructive. For more information, see "Javelina Resistant Plants," from the University of Arizona, and "Living With Javelina," from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Photo courtesy of Alan Vernon