December Gardening Tips

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.

PLANTING

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.

PRUNING

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.

MISCELLANEOUS

Water well before a freeze as it insulates the plants. It takes longer for the soil to dry out in the winter, so be careful not to over water and cause root rot.
Don’t let fallen leaves remain on your lawn all winter. Either mow them back into the lawn, use as a weed suppressing and water conserving mulch, or compost them. Leaves left on the lawn can cause disease problems.
Prepare lawn mowers and weed eaters for winter, so you do not damage the engine. Run the engines void of fuel and change the oil before winter.
Clean and sharpen garden tools.

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