Welcome to your one-stop resource for gardening in December. If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you!
You can check out my garden jobs for every other month in this post.
Gardening in December
If ever there was a month when the garden takes a back seat, it’s December. Christmas prep, bad weather and less daylight all make it easy to stay indoors and put those garden jobs off – and there’s nothing wrong with that!
However, the garden can be a lovely escape from the hectic pace of life this month. I find that just stepping outside into the fresh air and pottering for half an hour can make a huge difference to the stress levels.
If you like the idea of gardening in December, here are some ideal jobs to tackle that will keep you warm and help your garden thrive throughout winter and next year.
Protect tender plants
If you haven’t moved your tender plants to a sheltered spot or a greenhouse yet, don’t hang around. Even if the forecast is mild or your garden is sheltered, temperatures can drop suddenly and catch you out.
For tips on how to protect your plants in winter, take a look at my post on winter plant protection.
Plant winter bedding
If your garden is looking a bit bare, bedding plants are brilliant for an instant lift. You don’t have to tackle the whole garden; go for areas that you can see from indoors, or plant up containers and position them somewhere that you walk past regularly, like the front door.
Pansies, violas, cyclamen, ivy and heather are all great plants for a winter display. Garden centres, DIY stores and supermarkets usually have a good range of winter plants on offer. My winter plants for pots and plants for winter hanging baskets posts have lots of plant ideas to inspire you too.
Raise containers off the ground
If you haven’t already done it, make sure you lift your containers off the ground this month. If you leave them on the ground there’s a higher chance of them becoming waterlogged – and your plants won’t enjoy spending the winter in a puddle of cold water.
Use bricks or *pot feet to raise containers off the ground and help excess water drain away. Putting them on a wall works too – just make sure it’s in a sheltered position, and that the pots won’t get blown off in windy weather.
Stay on top of leaves
If your garden is still full of fallen leaves, now is a good time to deal with them before they turn into slippery mush.
Use a *rake to clear leaves from your lawn, and sweep them away from paths and patios regularly. You can put all those leaves to good use by making leaf mould – it’s a brilliant mulch for your plants, it’s really easy to do, and it doesn’t have to take up much space in the garden.
Add mulch to borders
December is a good time to add some mulch to your garden borders. Mulch will help to control weeds, and also provide some protection for plant roots during winter. Manure, leaf mould, spent compost and *bark chips all make great mulch.
Winter wildlife support
Winter is the toughest time of year for wild birds and other garden wildlife, so now is a great time to give them a helping hand.
Provide *bird seed (or make your own bird feeders) and a *bird bath, and top them up regularly. You can also leave an area of the garden intact rather than cutting down dead plants. This will provide seedheads for birds to feed on, and fallen stems for small mammals, frogs, toads and insects to shelter in.
Sort out your seeds
If you grow plants from seed, the chances are you’ve got quite a stash of packets! A quieter month like this is the ideal time to organise your supplies.
Check the sow-by dates on each packet. The general rule is to throw away anything that is out of date, as the seeds will be less likely to germinate. Having said that, if you’re willing to take the risk you can hang onto them and use them next year.
Sort your seeds according to the month you should plant them; this will save you lots of time next spring when things get busy in the garden. A *seed storage tin with compartments can be very handy here.
Finally, make a shopping list of seeds you need to buy, so you’re ready to go next year.
December is a good month to tidy up perennial plants that have finished flowering. You can use *secateurs to remove dead stems, but consider leaving some foliage on the plant to provide shelter for local wildlife.
Group 3 clematis plants (the ones that flower in mid-to-late summer) can be cut back this month. Cut them to within 30cm of ground level.
Climbing roses and rambling roses can also be pruned this month. While you’re doing this, tie in any loose stems to prevent wind damage.
What to plant in December
Gardening in December is definitely more low-effort than other times of the year, but if you’d still like to do some planting this month there are plenty of options.
For a full list of flowers, fruit and vegetables you can grow this month, head over to my post on what to plant in December.
Are you taking a break from the gardening this month, or catching up on those maintenance jobs? Let me know what you’re up to!