December in the garden – jobs for Christmas and the New Year

As we enter the new year and 2021 begins, you may think the garden has been put to bed, however there are still a few gardening jobs to be done. Here’s our quick guide to what to do in the garden over the festive break and the next couple of weeks.

In the garden

Now is the time for pruning. Cut back climbing roses that have any diseased or damage growth to tie in any new growth for support.  Prune dormant shrubs and hedges, grape vines, clematis and fruit trees before the end of the year to ensure they spring back next season.

Lift any remaining dahlia tubers once their foliage has been blackened by frosts and store them somewhere dry and cool until spring.

Move your containers of shrubs or bedding plants into a sheltered spot, clustering them together helps protect the root systems from suffering frost damage, or insulate with horticultural fleece.

If the ground is not too frosty, it is also to prepare soil for next year’s plants and crops by digging over empty borders, removing weeds and stones, and dig in soil conditioners such as manure, compost and bonemeal to ensure it is rich in nutrients for the new year.

Winter is a good time to plant hedges such as beech, hornbeam and quickthorn and bare root roses whilst they are still dormant.  If your garden’s looking a little dark during the shorter days, you add colour with some eye-catching displays of winter bedding, evergreen shrubs, conifers and winter stems of dogwood.

If you have a vegetable garden, this time of year is perfect to sow broad beans, onions, garlic and winter greens.

Garden Maintenance

The autumn leaves have now fallen to the ground, make sure you rake or leaf vacuum and clear them regularly, especially when the temperatures drop, which will result in an icy, slippery surface. Keep pathways and driveways safe and clear regularly

There is also the chance of fallen leaves could cause damage to your lawn. If the leaves get soaked by rain or start to rot, they can encourage weeds to grow, especially if there are large blanket of leaves on your lawn. Add to your compost heap or store in a separate pen for rotting down into a rich and nutritious leaf-mould.

The break over Christmas and new year also provides the perfect time to wash garden tools and wipe them with oil to help prevent them rusting whilst not in use. Get secateurs and lawn mower blades sharpened, fix any garden tools that may have suffered from use and wash your gardening gloves.

Take a moment to re-organise your shed and greenhouse too, before spring arrives!


Make fat balls and bird feeders in your garden to attract birds. Birds eat all sorts of insect pests so are very beneficial to your garden.  Leave some berries on plants such as holly and pyracantha – they are food for wildlife

Remember to freshen up water in bird baths regularly and ensure it doesn’t freeze over so avian visitors have a place to drink and bathe.

If you have a pond, make sure it doesn’t freeze over. Although pond life is well adapted to winter cold, shallow ponds can be kept clear with a floating ball.


If the weather is bad, use the time to sit back to reflect on your garden.  What has worked, what hasn’t?  Order gardening catalogues now and you’ll be the first in line to order your planned flowers and vegetables or sow your seeds early in the new year for season after season of beautiful blooms.

Let us know what plans you have for your garden in the new year at #gardenesquegarden

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