As the year draws to a close, avid gardeners know that December isn’t a time to rest entirely. Though the garden may appear to be in a state of dormancy, there are tasks that can be performed to ensure a successful growing season next year. Let’s dive into a comprehensive to-do list for your garden this December, distinguishing between essential tasks that are best addressed as winter sets in and those that can patiently wait until the warmth of spring begins to return.

Winter Ready: Must-Do Tasks for Your December Garden

  1. Winter Mulching:
    Applying a thick layer of mulch around trees, shrubs and perennial beds helps to insulate plant roots and protect them from harsh winter temperatures. Use organic materials like straw or shredded leaves for effective insulation.
  2. Pruning Deciduous Trees and Shrubs:
    While it’s generally advised to avoid major pruning during the growing season, December is an ideal time to trim deciduous trees and shrubs. This practice encourages healthy growth and shapes plants before the new growing season begins.
  3. Check and Repair Garden Tools:
    Take stock of your garden tools, clean off any dirt or rust and make necessary repairs. Properly maintained tools make your work more efficient and prolong their lifespan.
  4. Watering:
    Even though the garden is transitioning into dormancy, it’s crucial to water evergreen plants and newly planted ones during dry periods. Hydrated plants are more resilient to winter stress.
  5. Monitor for Pests and Diseases:
    Walk through your garden to inspect for signs of pests or diseases. Addressing issues now can prevent them from becoming more severe in the spring.
  6. Clearing Snow for Safe Strolls:
    Don’t forget to clear snow from garden paths, steps and sidewalks. It ensures a safe and accessible garden space. This winter maintenance prevents slips and falls while allowing for peaceful strolls through your winter wonderland.

Patience in Practice: Garden Tasks Reserved for Winter’s Farewell

  1. Fertilizing:
    Hold off on fertilizing your garden until late winter or early spring when plants begin their active growth phase.
  2. Major Soil Work:
    Avoid extensive soil cultivation during December, as it can disturb the soil structure and harm beneficial organisms. Save major soil amendments for early spring.
  3. Planting Tender Plants:
    Resist the urge to plant tender or frost-sensitive plants until the threat of frost has passed. Instead, focus on planning and preparing for future additions to your garden.

Unexpected Insights: Facts and Tips for December Garden Care

  1. Microbial Activity Continues:
    Beneath the surface, soil microbes remain active during winter, breaking down organic matter and enriching the soil.
  2. Winter Blooms Exist:
    Some plants, such as winter jasmine and hellebores, brave the cold to offer blossoms during the winter months.
  3. Frost is a Friend:
    Frost can be beneficial, breaking down the cell walls of plants, making nutrients more accessible for soil microbes.
  4. Bird-Friendly Gardens:
    Leaving seed heads and spent flowers can provide food for winter birds, turning your garden into a lively haven for wildlife.
  5. Protecting Container Plants:
    Container plants are more susceptible to freezing temperatures. Placing them in sheltered areas or wrapping them with burlap can offer protection.
  6. Time for Garden Planning:
    December is an excellent time to reflect on the past gardening year, assess successes and failures and start planning for the upcoming growing season.

As you navigate your December gardening tasks, remember that a little effort now can yield a bountiful and vibrant garden in the spring. Happy gardening, and here’s to a fruitful new year in your green oasis!