What to do in the garden in December

2 minute(s) read Categories Gardening calendar

a tree in winter

Love it or hate it, winter is finally here. It’s the easiest to-do list of the year, but the holidays will take up any slack time. 


Before you settle in for a long winter break, take a final look around your garden and take care of anything you may have forgotten. 

  • Check stored bulbs and tubers. Discard any that look discolored or soft. 
  • Gather remaining non-weatherproof pots and containers. Make sure they’re clean and dry, then move them into a garage or shed where they won’t freeze and crack. 
  • Remove damaged or low-hanging branches that may be whipped around in strong winter winds. 
  • Take an inventory of leftover seeds. Toss any that are old and no longer viable. Seeds last longer if you store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. 
  • Take a look at stored winter squash. Remove any that have developed soft spots or mold. 
  • Remove any remaining flower or vegetable stalks. 
  • Don’t worry if you didn’t cut back your perennials. The “skeletons” add textural interest to the garden throughout the winter and seed heads provide food for hungry birds. 

Create a garland with branches

  • Give spruce, pine, cedar and redwood trees a last trim. Tie the pruned branches loosely together and make a swag or traditional wreath. Add interest with a few pinecones and sprigs of holly or juniper.
  • Set all those seed catalogs aside until after the holidays. There’ll be plenty of time to enjoy them in January. 
  • Move indoor plants to sunnier spots. Be sure they’re protected from cold drafts and radiators or heat sources. 
  • Stock up on sand or ice melting products to prevent slips and falls on icy sidewalks and driveways. Avoid salt if possible; it’s hard on the soil and may damage plants.
  • Bring your snow blower out of hiding. Make sure it’s clean and ready to go. 
  • Be sure outdoor faucets are covered and insulated. 
  • Visit a botanical garden and enjoy their winter displays. Most are decked out in their best finery for the holiday season.