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December Garden Checklist: what to do in the garden in December

Written by Nicola Wallis

Gardening through winter can seem like a daunting prospect but any sunny days can be great opportunities to catch up on jobs in the garden.

We have put together an essential winter checklist of tasks to do in the garden in December.  This list will help keep you gardening through the winter and includes garden maintenance, pruning, clearing up jobs, winter crops and what to sow indoors.

Tidy & Clean

Not all December garden jobs are outside jobs, it is a good time to get in the shed or greenhouse to tidy and clean your tools. It is also the time to get secateurs sharpened, fix loose spade handles and wash your gardening gloves.

Sharp tools are safer and better for your plants, as a clean cut when pruning is less likely to let in disease. 

After giving your greenhouse a good clear out, insulate it with bubble wrap to conserve heat and reduce heating costs.  Good insulation will help your plants get off to the best start next season.


December is a perfect opportunity to complete any garden maintenance. When the weather allows do any repair work to sheds, fences and lawns. Keep off the grass as much as possible, although evergreen, grass is dormant in winter and damages easily. If you must walk on it, pop a plank down temporarily so that your weight is spread more evenly.

Consider the wildlife

One of the more enjoyable winter jobs in the garden is putting out feeders for garden birds; they will appreciate nuts, seeds and fat balls left out for them this winter. Remember to clean and freshen up water regularly and ensure it doesn’t freeze over. Keeping an area of your garden untidy, with a pile of logs and fallen leaves, makes a perfect hedgehog house.

Protect your garden in the winter

Protecting plants should be a priority on your December garden checklist. The start of this month really is the last chance to protect plants and pots that are vulnerable to frost damage. Add Haxnicks Victorian Bell Garden Cloches  to winter salads to protect them from the weather and pests.

Cloches allow the maximum amount of sunlight to be captured at any angle, they also provide the ideal conditions for over wintering herbaceous border plants and less hardy perennials.  Cloches are great to use throughout the seasons and are ideal for growing flowers or planting vegetables  as they provide the perfect atmosphere to give the plant a head start. They are especially useful if you are growing melons or other plants that require a long growing season.   

Bring tender plants indoors or put them in a greenhouse and avoid overwatering to avoid the risk of plants rotting. Forced bulbs such as hyacinths should also be brought in.

Protect pot plants from frost and harsh weather with Easy Fleece Jackets they are quick and easy to use; the jacket is pulled over the plant and secured with the

integral drawstring around the base. The fleece jackets let through light and moisture maintaining healthy growing conditions, and the natural-green colour makes them unobtrusive in the garden.

Winter gardening tip: As well as insulating plants you need to insulate outside taps so that their pipes do not burst. This can be done by wrapping taps in several layers of hessian.

Plants to prune in December

Pruning is a satisfying job to do in the winter and is the easiest time to do it, not only because plants are dormant, but because all the leaves have fallen, and it is easier to see what you are doing. The aim of winter pruning is to encourage vigour so that fruit trees are productive, and shrubs don’t outgrow their space and become unproductive. Many woody and deciduous plants ooze sap, or ‘bleed’ if they’re pruned when they’re not deeply dormant during winter and if cut stems bleed it can weaken the plant leading to disease.

It is a good time to do any major pruning of ornamental deciduous trees and shrubs including common plants below.

  • Grapevines
  • Autumn fruiting raspberries
  • Wisteria
  • Fruit-bushes including blueberries, gooseberries and redcurrants
  • Bush and climbing roses
  • Apple and pear trees
  • Deciduous shrubs such as cotinus, flowering currants and magnolia

Winter gardening tip: Consider shredding prunings rather than burning as not only is this better for the environment, shredding’s of disease free plants makes a fantastic mulch and can be added to compost.

Winter digging

As long as the soil is not frozen and water logged and conditions allow, winter digging can continue throughout December, it’s also a good time to incorporate organic matter into the soil. Keep off soil if it sticks to your boots until it has dried off a bit and if you must walk on it when wet use planks to get across.

Gardening from the comfort of your home

One of the more pleasant winter gardening jobs is planning and working out what plants you want to grow throughout the next year. Spend time researching vegetable seed and plant catalogues working out how you will garden through the forthcoming seasons. Making orders early will ensure you get the plants you desire before nurseries begin to run out.

Winter containers and household displays.

One of the ways to enjoy your garden in winter is by creating a few winter containers planted with evergreens and plants with colourful berries or flowers.

Fill your home with colour and purchase some winter flowering houseplants. A good selection includes poinsettias (a winter favourite) azaleas, and winter cyclamen.

Winter crops

Garlic, fruit bushes, raspberries and rhubarb can all be planted in winter.

If you didn’t get around to planting winter veg and salad earlier in the year, you can grow winter pulses. Microgreens are satisfyingly quick to grow. They are tiny, edible, immature veg plants which, need very little space or equipment so are great for beginners or urban gardeners. You can eat both the leaves and stems and harvest them simply with scissors or snips as and when you need them. As an extra plus side they are packed with a higher percentage of nutrients than their more mature versions. To find out more about microgreens read our earlier blog The best way to grow Microgreens.

Continue to harvest your winter crops; kale, leeks, winter cabbages, winter salads as well as those festive favourites; sprouts and parsnips. Remaining sprouts should be protected from strong winds using a Micromesh Pest and wind Barrier.

In addition to sprouts, the pest  barrier is ideal for protecting any plant in the parsley family such as parsnips, carrots, celery and of course parsley that can be vulnerable to attack from carrot fly. The Micromesh Pest and Wind Barrier is a tightly woven ultra-fine 0.6mm plant protection mesh with integral bamboo supports that can be adapted to surround various different shaped plots.  The sun can still shine on your crop, and you can still water and tend to it.

Celeriac can be lifted throughout the winter and protect the stems in frosty weather with a straw mulch. You can continue to lift celery as required and any other crops left in the ground can be protected by using an Easy Poly Tunnel. It acts like a greenhouse, extending the growing seasons, it will form a complete barrier and recycle moisture through condensation creating the ideal humidity for healthy plant growth.

If you have space sow some early crops such as lettuce, cabbages, radishes, spinach and onions in Haxnicks Rootrainers on a windowsill indoors.

We hope this gives you some food for thought and inspiration to go out in the garden in December! 




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