Explore things to do in your garden every month

Gardening in December

Even though December can be very cold and frosty – even with sleet and snow showers – there’s nothing better than banishing the winter blues by getting out into the garden. You might not think there’s much you can do, but anything done now will help to make that spring mad rush more manageable.

Things to do in:
Things to do this month
Draw up your plans for which flowers you want to grow next year and order the seeds, so you don’t miss out in spring.
Plant hardy trees, shrubs, roses, climbers and perennials, providing the soil isn’t frozen solid or waterlogged.
Keep off heavy clay soils when they’re wet or frozen as you can damage the soil structure.
Deadhead winter-flowering pansies to keep them flowering during mild weather.
Propagate Acanthus, Anemone hybrida, Eryngium, Oriental poppies and Verbascum from root cuttings.
Continue to tidy up beds and borders, clearing away dead and dying leaves and faded flower stems.
Dig over the soil in the vegetable patch if you garden on heavy clay soil and didn’t do it last month.
It’s not too late to take hardwood cuttings of various deciduous shrubs and soft fruit.
Continue feeding wild birds with high-energy bird foods to help them through the winter.
Make sure bird baths and other water sources for wild birds are kept from freezing over.
Carefully melt frozen ponds with a pan of hot water. Don’t smash the ice – this can harm the fish.
Clean pond filters and pumps.
Check that compost in containers doesn’t dry out and water if necessary.
Move deciduous small trees, shrubs and climbers that are growing in the wrong place.
If you’re not using your mower, have it serviced now before the spring rush.
Prune established, free-standing apple and pear trees IF they need it.
Brush snow off the branches of conifers and other evergreens. Heavy snowfall can damage the branches.
Clean old pots and seed trays, so that they’re ready for seed sowing in spring.
Prune red, white and blackcurrants, gooseberries and grape vines.
Draw up plans for next year's vegetable garden and order seeds and other planting material.
Stake Brussels sprout plants that are vulnerable to wind rock.
Apply a thick mulch to protect the roots of borderline hardy plants.
Tie wall shrubs and climbers onto their supports to protect them from wind damage.
Clean decking and patio slabs – which will also help reduce the risk of slipping on them.
Keep off the lawn when it’s frozen, as you can damage the grass and leave brown footprint marks.
Weeds may still appear in mild weather, so hoe regularly to prevent them becoming established.
Treat fences and other wooden structures with a wood preservative.
Cover overwintering brassicas with horticultural fleece or netting to stop pigeons getting at them.