By addressing these tasks in December, you’ll ensure that your garden remains protected during the winter months and be well-prepared for the gardening season ahead.
Flower Beds, Trees, and Shrubs:
- Apply a thick layer of mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to insulate roots against freezing temperatures. This is especially important for newly planted trees and shrubs.
- Shield vulnerable plants from winter winds and frost by wrapping them in burlap or frost cloth.
- Continue pruning deciduous trees and shrubs. Remove dead or diseased branches and any potential hazards caused by heavy snow accumulation.
- Remove any remaining dead plant material, including annuals and spent perennials. Cut back any remaining ornamental grasses.
- Take root cuttings from your cold-sensitive perennials. Plant them in pots and keep them indoors; you can use these to replace any plants that are killed during the winter.
- If you have cold frames, consider using them to extend the growing season for winter-hardy vegetables like kale and carrots.
- Bring potted herbs indoors to a sunny windowsill for fresh herbs during the winter months.
- Avoid walking on frozen grass to prevent damaging the crowns of the grass plants.
- Continue to rake leaves and all other heavy matter off grass as it smothers very easily during extremely cold weather.
General Garden Chores:
- Clean and oil garden tools before storing them for the winter to prevent rust.
- Clean leaves and twigs from gutters and drains as they are likely to clog and freeze and sometimes result in destructive garden damage.
- Finalize your garden plans for the upcoming year. Order seeds and plan your planting schedule.
- Give the compost heap another turn with a fork and add a generous helping of hydrated lime.
- Do any filling or grading about the grounds so that loose soil can settle during the winter months.
- Test your soil. Now is a good time to add lime if it is necessary.
- Save ashes from open fires for use in the spring. They are a source of potash, an essential plant food.
- If you are feeding birds, don’t stop now, they become dependent upon the feed.
- If you have indoor plants, check them for pests and provide appropriate care. Clean dust off leaves to allow better light absorption.
- Reflect on the past gardening season. Take notes on what worked well and what could be improved, which will help in planning for the next year.
- Have snow removal equipment, such as shovels and snow blowers, ready for quick access in case of snowfall.