The end of the year is slowly approaching and winter has officially started while it might be a little brisk outside, there’s still plenty of jobs to be getting on with.
Find the top gardening jobs for December and get your garden ready for the new year, all while keeping warm and busy.
Prepping the Garden in December
Clear the last remaining fallen leaves to stop any critters like slugs and snails from hiding in the leaf litter.
Be mindful of hedgehogs and other little creatures that may have taken shelter in leaf piles for hibernation.
Scrub away slippery patches from patios and paths. Use a jet washer or scrubbing brush to keep walkways safe and clean.
Tidying Soil and Beds in December
Prep the soil for planting. Add lots of well-rotted manure and organic matter for a nutrient-rich new year.
Add manure or compost to topsoil and turn with a garden fork to mix well into the deeper layers. Don’t worry about large clumps of soil, the cold weather will help to break these down.
Remove remaining weeds that are growing through. If the winter weather has been quite mild you may notice some straggling weeds growing, they should be easy to spot and remove in the bare garden.
Remove any remains of old trees and shrubs. Add them to the compost bin leaving you with a nice clean slate to get planting your bare roots now or other plants in spring.
Watering Trees and Plants in December
Reduce watering unless particularly dry. Dormant trees and plants require much less watering through the winter.
Watch for potted plants becoming waterlogged. If December has been quite a rainy one, consider standing your potted trees and plants up on bricks to allow water to drain away freely.
Pruning Trees and Plants in December
A lot of different trees and plants will benefit from pruning in the winter. This is the time when they are dormant and it will encourage the production of fruits or flowers in the coming year.
Prune rose bushes in early winter. Older plants such as hybrid teas, floribundas and climbing roses will benefit from a severe pruning at least once a year. Cut back any the weaker looking stems to keep the bush strong and just as protocol make sure to remove any dead or diseased branches.
Prune deciduous trees such as Japanese Maples and Birch Trees in early winter. If pruning is left any later the wounds will bleed sap, so prune in December for best results.
Avoid pruning Japanese Maples if the trees are young, cutting into the new wispy growth will encourage the tree to send our more of the same.
The pruning of both trees should be regular and light and should be done for shape. If done often and lightly enough this will make sure that you don’t need to cut into old wood and will keep the tree a great shape.
Prune soft fruit like Blueberry Plants and Gooseberry Bushes, removing any old wood and leaving healthy young shoots that will be extremely productive and produce many fruits next year.
Any large fruit trees should be pruned for shape and to encourage a productive fruiting season in the following year. Don’t prune espalier or well-trained fruit trees at this time of year and avoid pruning stone fruit trees such as cherries at the retreating sap is known to attract an airborne fungus known as silver leaf.
Planting Trees and Plants in December
Plant both your bare root roses and container grown roses. Avoid planting them in places where other rose bushes have previously been grown as it can lead to diseases caused by replanting.As trees enter their full dormancy it’s a great time to get them in the ground but make sure to protect any young or newly planted trees from cold snaps and frosts that can damage the roots.
Plant any soft fruit bushes such as gooseberries and raspberries. Blueberries should also be planted now, in the spring you will be rewarded with the unusual white blossoms then much more seasonal interest throughout the year such as the fruits and blaze of autumn foliage.
Adding a healthy layer of dry mulch to the topsoil will protect the root systems from cold weather.
A general rule of thumb is to avoid planting anything in ground that is waterlogged or frozen.
What to Harvest in December?
If you have a holly bush that has produced beautiful bright red berries then prune and harvest some branches from the tree that can be used for festive decor around the home.
If your Christmas tree also needs a bit of a prune, remove branches and combined with the holly branches they can be turned into festive wreaths or garlands for decoration around the home.
Take hardwood cuttings of herbaceous plants ready for propagating.
Finish harvesting apples and pears that are left in the garden to use or store over winter. Make sure your stores of fruit aren’t going mouldy and remove any fruits that are to keep the rest of the stash fresh through the winter.
Protecting your Plants in December
Protect trees and plants at risk frost or wind damage and waterlogging, especially container grown plants and any climbing shrubs.
Move your potted trees to a more sheltered location, if you have quite a few pots then gathering them together will provide some well-needed protection for the roots.
Add a layer of plastic sheet or bubble wrap to potted plants if they need the extra protection. This also helps to protect terracotta pots from cracking in freezing conditions.
Cover the tips of your Fig trees. Figs produce their fruits from the tips of the branches, protect to stop frost damage.
Tie back any climbing plants to their supports in order to protect them from wind damage.
What’s Looking Good in December?
Plant evergreen trees and plants to bring the garden to life and provide a green backdrop for the rest of the garden.
For greenery, plant holly trees or perhaps a Norway spruce. For something a little prettier why not a winter-flowering consider a camellia or winter flowering cherry tree.
Garden Wildlife in December
Keep the wildlife in the garden well fed with trees that produce berries and fruits. These include rowan trees, holly trees and even oak and beech for their supply of nuts over the winter.
To encourage even more winter wildlife, consider setting up a feeder, keeping them topped up regularly will ensure the birds and other animals become regular visitors. Make sure to place the feeder high out of the way of any predators such as cats.
Indoor Gardening Tips in December
Move your citrus trees away from central heating or cold drafts. If your citrus becomes stressed they may start to lose their leaves. See our citrus leaf drop guide for more information.
Reduce citrus tree watering for the winter but don’t let the compost dry out and make sure the soil doesn’t become waterlogged. Citrus trees do not tolerate having ‘wet feet’.
Reduce watering of other indoor plants and move them to a brighter area of the house where they can get the most sunlight possible.
Other Gardening Jobs in December
Check trees and plants for pests such as aphids and spider mites that will try to overwinter on the leaves. Remove by hand or with a diluted soapy spray and keep pests and diseases to a minimum.
Turn the compost bin and add plastic sheeting over the top to keep the temperature up. Compost heaps can become less productive in the winter when it’s cold.
Check out our December Tree of the Month and December Gift Ideas to see the best trees and plants to sending for Birthday and Anniversary gifts this month.