What To Do in the Garden in December

Finally the official start of winter, the darker evenings and frosty starts will change the gardening jobs that you need to do throughout December. From continuing frost and adverse weather protection to planning next year’s blooms, although you might not be digging in the soil, there’s still plenty to get stuck into. Popping on your warm winter coat and wellies and making sure you’re up to date with this month’s planting will ensure a bright and colourful garden to welcome spring. The season’s festivities can grace your garden, with colourful displays from winter bedding plants and seasonal flowers. 

Take a look at December’s gardening jobs, what you should be planting this month and general tips to look after your garden this winter and after all your winter preparations, relax and enjoy the Christmas holidays.

What To Do in the Garden in December

Plants and Flowers:

  • For delicate climbing plants and tall shrubs, check they are well supported and secured to bamboo canes or specifically designed flower supports. 
  • As tempting as it might be, avoid deadheading your hydrangeas as this will help the plant to remain healthy in frosty temperatures. Buds for the next year’s blooms will grow just below the old heads, not removing them can help protect new growth.
  • To give your garden a colour lift, why not look into planting some winter bedding plants. Pansies, Ivy and Heather all bring colour to the garden during winter and thrive in hanging baskets.
  • For any bare root trees, hedges or roses, now is the perfect time to plant. The cooler temperatures leave the plant dormant and ensures they are able to survive the move. Remember when re-potting to add plenty of high quality organic matter to provide extra nutrients in a hole that is twice as wide as the roots and at least a spade depth. 
  • Harvest any festive foliage and Holly bush cuttings, ready to use for making Christmas wreaths. Cuttings are best kept in buckets of water outside until you are ready to use, keep checking the water to make sure that the water is not frozen.
  • Climbing roses should be pruned now whilst the rose is dormant to encourage healthy flower growth and reduce the chances of disease. 

Lawn Care:

  • If the winter has bought heavy snow, avoid walking on the grass to stop unsightly brown patches appearing in the spring. 
  • The British winter can be unpredictable and vary drastically from year to year. If the weather is particularly mild and if needed then the grass can still be cut but we would recommend leaving more length.
  • In particularly wet winters it may be beneficial to add holes to the lawn with your garden fork to help improve the drainage. 
  • As the last remaining leaves fall, continue clearing your garden to allow light to get to your plants and lawn. Leaves can be used as a mulch around vulnerable plants to help them survive dramatic temperature changes. Read more here about how to protect your plants from frost.
What To Do in the Garden in December

In the fruit and vegetable patch:

  • Lift any last remaining leeks and parsnips that you may have left over before the soil becomes frozen.
  • For especially cold temperatures, add fleece to your plants to help with protection from the elements. If you have peach or nectarine trees it is also beneficial to add fleece or polythene to protect them from the damp weather which can cause peach leaf curl fungus to affect the plant and fruits.
  • The majority of the vegetable patch will have stopped growing and been cleared. Now is the perfect time to install pathways and boards to help with navigation and stop damage when the garden is in full bloom.
  • The ends of fig trees should be protected from the elements as this is where the fruits will grow next year.
  • Begin looking at what vegetables you would like to harvest and eat next year, as planting begins in early spring for many family favourites.

Pests and Weeds:

  • On plants that have been moved to sheltered areas or into the greenhouse consistently check for aphids attempting to overwinter, remove them by wiping leaves and washing leaves in mild soapy water.
  • Hang bird feeders in the garden and provide food throughout the winter to encourage them to pick off overwintering pests and bugs.
  • Remove snow from branches to stop breakage and bending under the weight.
What To Do in the Garden in December

Watering Tips:

  • In enclosed areas like the greenhouse and shed, water plants sparingly to keep the air as dry as possible.
  • Bring all your outdoor watering equipment, including hoses and sprinklers indoors. This makes sure that they do not freeze and split and remain in good condition for next year. 
  • Real Christmas trees should stand outside in a bucket of water until you begin decorating. As soon as possible after purchase remove the netting to stop fungus growth and cut the trunk with a saw at least 3 cm from the base before popping in water. Find out more about how to care for your Christmas tree here.


  • When collecting and storing your equipment, take note of anything that needs to be replaced or tools that you would like for next year and add them to your Christmas list.
  • Begin ordering seeds for next year including apple trees which can be planted in early spring. 
  • Get existing tools repaired and sharpened while they are not in heavy daily use.
  • If you are storing bulbs and the winter is particularly damp, routinely check for signs of rot and discard affected bulbs in the compost heap to keep the remaining healthy. 
  • Delicate pots and old terracotta can crack in freezing temperatures. These types of pot are best moved indoors or into greenhouses whilst the weather is cooler. 
  • Group potted plants that are overwintering outside together to stop harsh weather damage and help with frosts.

Something for the little ones:

  • The festive season is here so there are plenty of things to do in the garden with little ones. From your cut foliage you can make a festive wreath or garland together, being careful to avoid younger children with winter berries and prickly holly. 
  • Create winter bird feeders and homemade fat balls to keep the wildlife coming to your garden.
  • Decorate outside trees and plants together as well as the all important Christmas tree!
  • You can also get younger children to help with next year’s planting as Sweet Peas are a great scatter seed which can be sown this month.

The year is finally coming to an end and means that a whole new year of gardening is just beginning. If you have any questions or need any advice on how to help your plants survive the winter, or you would like to add a bit of colour with some seasonal plants, please do not hesitate to visit us in store. To check our Christmas range and events take a look here.

And lastly from all at the Holt Garden Centre and the Garden Terrace Café, we wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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