Garden Tips for December and January


Garden Tips for December/January

By David Hillock

 Lawn & Turf

  • Remove leaves from cool-season grasses or mow with a mulching mower. HLA-6420)
  • Continue mowing cool-season lawns on a regular basis. HLA-6420)
  • Continue to control broadleaf weeds in well-established warm- or cool-season lawns with a post-emergent broadleaf weed killer.

Tree & Shrubs

  • Select a freshly cut Christmas tree. Make a new cut prior to placing in tree stand.  Add water daily.
  • Live Christmas trees are a wise investment, as they become permanent additions to the landscape after the holidays.
  • Light prunings of evergreens can be used for holiday decorations. Be careful with sap that can mar surfaces.


  • Apply winter mulch to protect rose bush bud unions and other perennials. Wait until after several early freezes or you will give insects a good place to winter.
  • Poinsettias must have at least six hours of bright, indirect light daily. Keep plants away from drafts.

Fruits & Nuts

  • Cover strawberry plants with a mulch about 3 to 4 inches thick if plants are prone to winter injury.
  • Wait to prune fruit trees until late February or March.


  • Keep all plants watered during dry conditions even though some may be dormant.
  • Irrigate all plantings at least 24 hours before hard-freezing weather if soil is dry. (HLA‑6404)
  • Order gardening supplies for next season.
  • Now is a great time to design and make structural improvements in your garden and landscape.
  • Send for mail-order catalogs if you are not already on their mailing lists.
  • Christmas gift ideas for the gardener might include tools, kneeling benches/seats, garden books and magazine subscriptions.
  • Clean and fill bird feeders.
  • Make sure indoor plants are receiving enough light, or set up an indoor fluorescent plant light.
  • Till garden plots without a cover crop to further expose garden pests to harsh winter conditions.
  • Visit your county extension office to obtain gardening fact sheets for the new gardening season.
  • Join a horticulture, plant or urban forestry society and support community “greening” or “beautification” projects.
  • Review your garden records so you can correct past mistakes. Purchase a new gardening journal or calendar to keep the New Year’s gardening records.

Sharpen that Blade Now!

As mowers are put away for the season, one of the more important maintenance practices suggested is to sharpen that blade! Studies have shown that some of the problems we have with weakened lawns may not be due to environmental stresses, but can be directly linked with failure to keep the mower blade sharp. A dull mower blade rips the grass, instead of cutting it cleanly. The ripping action makes a long, slow healing wound that makes disease invasion more pervasive. It can also lead to extensive tip dieback of the grass blade itself that reduces the effective photosynthetic area left to the grass following a cut.

Mower blades should be sharpened on a regular basis, and there is no better time to do it than as that mower is stored for the winter. This insures that the first cut is a good “sharp” one!

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