December is the month when the days get shorter and cold weather really begins to limit your outdoor gardening activities. Winter is a great time to read your favorite gardening magazines and books, visit nurseries and study your landscape to make improvements or additions.
There is still time to plant some pansies. These colorful annuals will live through the winter and be spectacular next spring. They work really well when mixed with bulbs. Mix bright and light colors if you want your bed to be seen from a distance. You can also plant hardy trees and shrubs this month. You must water them carefully, not letting them dry out or sopping wet.
Prepare your flower bed for next spring. You can go ahead and prepare the soil now. Dig it up, remove the weeds and work in leaves and compost. If the soil stays wet longer than it should, add more organic matter to create a raised bed to help it drain better.
Most woody trees and shrubs can be safely pruned December through early March. Some of the right reasons for pruning include removing dead or winter-killed or diseased or insect-injured wood and broken branches.
Plants that bloom in early spring should be pruned after they flower. Those that bloom in late spring and summer can be pruned during the winter.