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December garden jobs

Tiffany Daneff / 08 December 2016

Find out what quick garden jobs need doing in December for a healthy and beautiful garden next spring.

Frosty winter garden

If it looks like freezing…

Wrap outside taps with bubblewrap or some form of lagging.

Watch out for mice

Extreme cold will entice the mice into seed and fruit stores. Put seeds in tins with tight fitting lids and ensure that your fruit and veg are protected.

Paths and steps

Cold, wet weather can make surfaces treacherous. Use a wire brush, jet wash or path cleaner to clean them. Wooden steps are particularly dangerous. Staple down a layer of galvanized wire mesh to provide better grip.

Barerooted trees and shrubs

Winter is a good time for planting bareroots. And also for moving trees and shrubs though with Christmas looming it may make sense to order now and plant in the New Year. Just avoid planting when the ground is wet and freezing.

Find out how to plant bareroot plants


Unless houseplants are near a radiator and/or in a centrally heated room they should need minimal watering now.

Find out about winter care of houseplants

Citrus trees

You will still need to water citrus trees as and when they need it. Wait until the soil feels dry and then water with a proprietary citrus winter feed which contains the key nutrients they need.

In the borders

Leave seed heads for birds and insects to feed on and hibernate in. Any foliage that has been wasted by frost and turned to black slime should be cut off and removed.

Protect tender plants left in the ground by mounding over a few inches of insulating mulch such as leaves, manure or straw.

If you want to remember where plants are put down markers now before they completely disappear.


Rake up and dispose of (in a bin or bonfire but NOT in the compost) all leaves with signs of black spot to prevent spreading the disease.


Tree ferns, bananas and palms need insulating from the worst weather. Wrap in a fleece jacket or with a sandwich of straw and fleece.

Find out more about winter care for exotics

Prune apple and pear trees

Check your freestanding apple and pear trees. Once all the leaves have dropped they may need some pruning to get them in shape for next year. (Wall trained varieties do not need pruning now.)

Start by removing all diseased, damaged and dead branches.

Cut out very low branches (that won’t get much light), crossing branches (which rub and damage themselves and others) and those that are growing into the centre of the tree. You are trying to create space at the centre and to open up the tree.

Shorten very long stems by a third cutting to an outward facing bud.

Remove any thin shoots coming from the trunk.

Give your garden a makeover and save money at the same time with a special Thompson and Morgan offer of 10% off.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.