The weather is getting colder and frost, rain and high winds are now regular visitors to our garden. Whilst it’s tempting to stay indoors, there are a number of jobs for December that will help keep the garden in shape for the warmer months ahead.
It’s time to don a hat, scarf and gloves and head outside to catch some late Winter sunshine and carry out a few of our gardening tips for December.
Quick Checklist for December Tasks
- With high winds and gales around it’s time to keep a regular check on winter structure to make sure they are secure.
- Keep an eye on greenhouse heaters to make sure they are working and protecting tender plants from falling temperatures.
- Prevent ponds, outside taps and bird baths from freezing over.
- Now is the time to prune open-grown apple and pear trees (leave those trained against walls).
- Prune Maple’s, Birches and Vines to avoid bleeding.
- Harvest winter vegetable crops including leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and any remaining root crops.
- Plant or transplant deciduous trees and shrubs
- Take hardwood cuttings
1. Continue to look after your lawn
The last of the leaves are falling and need removing to keep light and moisture reaching the grass.
If the weather is mild for December then grass will continue to grow (in temperatures above 5°C). You can still use a mower to keep the lawn in check (remember not too short), and now is a good time to get a nice clean edge on your lawn to keep it looking good over Winter.
Remember to avoid walking on frost covered lawns as this can cause damage to the grass. Also check for signs of water-logging (for remedying in the warmer months) as algae can cause lawn problems where drainage is poor.
2. Tidy up flower borders
Keep cutting back herbaceous perennials that are now past their best. In milder areas you may still be able to lift and divide herbaceous perennials to rejuvenate flowering vigour and replenish stocks around the garden.
Once you’ve cut back, rake up leaves and remove weeds so your borders are ready for a mulch in Spring.
Any tender plants left outside should also be checked to make sure their winter protection in still secure, particularly after a bout of inclement weather.
3. Keep ponds ice free
Check for ice forming on your pond, as not removing this can be fatal for pond life. Keep your pond ice free by using a pond heater to stop water from freezing over, or melt a hole in frozen ponds by holding a saucepan of hot water on the surface. Whatever you do, do not crack the ice as this will cause harm to fish.
Keep ponds clear of leaves and other garden debris. You can rake these out of the pond, or place over a protective netting to catch falling leaves. This same netting will also provide a barrier between your fish and any hungry herons.
Drain all stand pipes and irrigation lines to avoid damage from freezing. Lag outdoor taps so you can still use them throughout winter.
4. Enhance or install garden structures
Once you’ve finished pruning and tidying your garden, now is the time to think about carrying out those tasks that would cause damage and disruption to a garden in full bloom.
The quieter winter months are perfect for considering installing garden lighting, water pipes, drainage or water features. As well as undertaking major garden projects such laying new paving, building or replacing fencing and digging a new pond.
At Thames Valley Landscapes we offer a full range of garden landscaping services to help bring structure, form and above all enjoyment to your garden.
5. Take care of your tools
Make sure lawnmowers and hedge-trimmers are clean and dry before putting them into winter storage. Drain them of petrol, as unleaded petrol doesn’t keep and could cause problems next year when trying to start up machines for the first time.
This is also the ideal time to send any machinery away for a service ready for when you’ll need it in Spring.
Clean and sharpen secateurs and loppers ready for pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs over the winter. Spare springs and replacement blades can also be purchased for more expensive models.
6. Trees and shrubs
You can still plant bare-root deciduous hedging plants and trees over December. Make sure they are firmed in properly to avoid lifting and loosening of the roots in high winds. Staking and erecting a temporary wind break will also help keep their roots secure. Protect the bark of newly planted trees with rabbit guards.
For glorious summer scents, plant roses now, but be sure to keep away from areas where roses were previously grown to avoid problems with replant diseases.
Move established deciduous trees and shrubs, provided the ground is not frozen or soggy.
Make sure wall shrubs and climbers are tied securely to supports to protect against wind damage. Also check tree ties and stakes, replace, tighten, slacken or remove as required.
Now that you can see the structure of deciduous trees, shrubs and hedges without their leaves, now is the time to give them a prune. Using clean secateurs, loppers and saws remove dead and diseased twigs and branches, then prune to maintain shape and vigour. Leave evergreens, tender plants and prunus species (ornamental cherries and plums) until Spring.
7. Stay warm in the greenhouse
If you haven’t already done so, put up insulating material such as bubble wrap on the inside of the greenhouse.
Check that greenhouse heaters are functioning properly and get hold of a maximum-minimum thermometer to enable accurate monitoring of the temperature.
Keep gutters and water pipes clear by removing leaves and twigs from greenhouse and shed gutters.