Some jobs in the garden over December and January include: 

  • At this time of year strong winds are not unusual, so check all structures including arches and fence panels are secure.       Young trees should be well staked and climbing plants securely tied in.
  • Brush heavy snow off trees shrubs and conifers with a broom to prevent branches getting damaged. Apples and pears, currants and autumn-fruiting raspberries can be pruned any time from leaf drop until March.
  • Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding of the sap.
  • Planting and transplanting of deciduous trees and shrubs whilst they are dormant – unless of course the ground is frozen.
  • Reshaping and repair of lawn edges (if the ground is not too wet).
  • Weeding borders (if the ground is not too wet).       Remember that it is not a good idea to tread on wet soil as this will compact it.
  • Keep soil covered with leaf mould or fresh autumn leaves – this will prevent winter rains washing nutrients from the soil.
  • In the vegetable garden, stake and earth up Brussels Sprout plants to lessen the risk of them blowing over in windy weather.
  • Parsnips and swedes in the ground can be lifted as needed but it is an idea to cover them with fleece or straw to stop them freezing solid into the ground.
  • If frost is forecast lift a few leeks from the ground as they are impossible to dig out in icy conditions.
  • It is traditionally the time to browse seed brochures so take time to think about what you want to grow next year and order vegetable and flower seeds.       It is also the time to think about buying seed potatoes ready for chitting in February.
  • Inspect stored tubers such as Dahlias, Bergonias and Cannas for rot and drying out. It is important that the tubers do not become bone dry as they are then unlikely to grow.
  • Cut off old leaves of Hellebores that produce flowers from ground level so that the flowers will be more visible.   And look out for the first snowdrops!

Despite the list above, December and January are probably the quietest months in the garden and if the weather is like last year it may be too wet to be outside for long without getting drenched. However, if you have the inclination then it is a good time of year to tidy and reorganize the garden shed, clean and sharpen tools and wash pots and seed trays so they are ready for use in the spring – it will be here before we know it! In the meantime, best wishes for the festive period and happy gardening in the coming year.