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DOUG’S BLOG – December Gardening Tasks

By Doug Hensel
Doug's Blog

LAST MONTH OF THE YEAR BUT THERE ARE STILL SOME IMPORTANT TASKS IN THE GARDENS THAT NEED ATTENTION

First, let me re-cap the month of November. November was a warm month. And, we had plenty of rain throughout the month, especially in mid-November with all the rain from Eta. For some of us, Eta delivered too much rain that caused flooding. Needless to say, our ground is saturated as we head into December. But, on a bright note — we never want our plants, especially the newly planted plants, to be dry going into a cold spell. Needless to say, Mother Nature has been quite accommodating in this category.

HERE ARE A FEW GARDENING TIPS FOR DECEMBER

TAKE CARE OF OUR BIRDS

Let’s all remember that we live with nature and birds need our help more than ever with food, water, and shelter during the winter months.

BIRD FEEDERS, BIRD HOUSES, BIRD SEED – ALL MAKE A GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR SOMEONE OF ANY AGE.

LEAVES

What do you do with all the leaves that have now fallen from our trees? My advice is to not bag but to reuse and recycle leaves. Leaves make a great mulch for around all your plants. Use a lawnmower and grind the leaves up. Leaves will break down quickly over time and add good organic matter to your soil. This is a win-win situation in my opinion.

WATER BIRDBATHS / WATER FOUNTAINS

Don’t forget to protect your outdoor fountains and birdbaths this winter. You need to drain them of any water in order to prevent cracking due to expanding ice. Once drained and dry then be sure to cover them so that they will not collect rainwater.

A BIRDBATH HEATER WILL ALLOW YOU TO KEEP WATER IN THE BIRDBATH TO SUPPORT OUR BIRDS’ NEED FOR WATER – ANOTHER GOOD HOLIDAY GIFT TO CONSIDER.

TREE BOUGHS

Use branches from discarded Christmas trees to mulch garden beds. This is a great reuse/recycle idea. And, once winter is over these boughs are easy to lift off and uncover the gardens.

WATERING

Melted snow contains minerals and can be used instead of tap water for winter watering of house plants. Just let it sit for a day or two in order to come to room temperature.

A NEW WATERING CAN OR SPRAYER IS A GOOD HOLIDAY GIFT IDEA — ESPECIALLY FOR SOMEONE WHO IS RELATIVELY NEW TO HAVING HOUSE PLANTS.

FRUIT TREES

Fruit trees can be pruned at any time during the winter provided the temperature is above 45 degrees F.

ORGANIC GARDENING

Organic gardening is becoming more and more popular with homeowners. Take advantage of this time of year and read up on organic gardening. Then come springtime you can begin to apply some of these earth-friendly practices with your own gardens and landscape. A complete soil analysis is the first step in learning to become an organic gardener.

A SOIL TEST KIT MAKES A GREAT GIFT IDEA. COME SEE US BECAUSE WE SELL SOIL TEST KITS. MATTER OF FACT, HAVING A SOIL TEST DONE IN DECEMBER IS A GOOD IDEA – NOT JUST FOR ORGANIC GARDENING. THIS TEST WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SOIL AND WHAT IT MAY NEED.

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10 thoughts on “DOUG’S BLOG – December Gardening Tasks

  1. Doug. Are all my azaleas yellow leaves a sign if too much rain or what? They usually stay green? Will they rebound? Look forward to your ideas! Thank you

  2. Pamela,
    Good Morning. I don’t think you have anything to worry about when it comes to the yellow leaves on azaleas. Most azaleas will have yellow leaves this time of year with the change of weather. this is especially true with azaleas that bloom either white or pink. Now, with all this rain we are having this fall this could be having some affect. But I would not worry. Let the azaleas go dormant for the winter. Flower buds are already set for blooming next spring. I would not do any feeding until around the first of March. But, more importantly is to feed them once they have finished blooming in the spring. The azaleas have spent a lot of energy flowering and you want to give that energy back in the form of a good, quality fertilizer that is geared for azaleas and acid loving plants. Doug

  3. Dear Doug:
    I have two questions. Normally, I get one more tilling of the soil before the ground becomes unworkable and then cover the garden beds of my raised-bed garden. Is this last-minute tilling followed by covering the beds for the winter to prevent the formation of weeds a good idea? Also, is it a good idea to prune rose bushes now?

  4. I forgot to put holly tone on my dogwoods Rhodes and azaleas. I suppose I now need to just hold that bag till the spring… what is the earliest that is ok? Thanks

  5. Doug: I think my cherry laurel might have scale. It has had some continuing dieback in a certain area that started last fall & continued through the summer. How can I tell for sure if it scale, or something else? It’s a huge set of rubbery and is at least 25 years old and beautiful when it blooms.

  6. I have a huge pile of leaves hidden away. I had planned to just “leave” it to decompose on its own and use them as they break down for mulch. I have not been mowing them as they are added; is that a mistake on my part? I also add veggies to the pile but certainly not in the amount to create the ideal composting mulch. Any advice for better managing my leaf mountain? Thank you

  7. Jean,
    Thank you for this message. I would not suggest that you do anything differently. Most people don’t have the space to store a big pile of leaves such as yourself. So, this is where mowing / chopping them up is to solution. There is nothing wrong with adding veggies to your compost. To aid in the decomposing process you could try using a rake or pitch fork and “turn over” the pile. This should speed up the process of decomposing into organic matter. Doug

  8. Thank you for this message. If you live by then you can bring us a sample and let us inspect. If it is scale then we would recommend spraying with a dormant oil spray this time of year. The oil film will coat and suffocate the scale insect. Hopefully, you can come see us with a sample. Take care, Doug

  9. Maria,
    Thank you for this message. Even though Espoma Holly Tone is an organic product you still don’t want to try to push any new growth this time of year. Not everyone has experienced a hard freeze that have sent our shrubs into dormancy for the winter. I would recommend holding off on applying Holly Tone until sometime in February. And this will allow any rain or snow in February to work the Holly Tone into the soil to the root system.

  10. timothy,
    Thank you for your questions. With all this rain that have had this fall along with a warm November and early December I think it is fine for you to till your gardens. The combination of tilling and covering does assist in controlling weed growth. As for your rose question – it is a good idea to prune rose bushes sometime this winter since roses will bloom off of new, spring growth. Doug

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