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December Landscaping Checklist

This time of year, lounging by a roaring fire and feasting on holiday sweets seems far preferable to braving the cold to dig out in the garden. But don’t completely surrender to holiday lethargy just yet…there’s still a few cold-season gardening and landscaping chores to complete before a deep freeze sets in. Before you settle into the winter, make sure your yard is prepped for a productive spring—no work now could mean a lot of work later.

Winter Gardening

Photo by Liz West.

December Landscaping Checklist

Add Mulch after First Frost

Once a good frost has hit, you can fortify your trees and shrubs by adding a 2-inch layer of straw, fallen leaves, or mulch around their bases. This extra layer of warmth will help keep plant roots protected during prolonged cold spells.

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

An indoor, potted holly plant is perfect for the holidays. If kept well-watered, holly plants can thrive inside for up to 10 days. After that, they need to be undecked from the halls and moved to a sunny spot outside, where they can be transplanted into the soil and mulched along with other evergreen shrubs.

Gather Leaves for Compost

If you’re not using your dead leaves as mulch, it’s not too late to compost them. Likely, the ground is still covered with crunchy, brown leaves that would make the perfect food for a compost pile. Add dead leaves into a mesh of organic matter (egg shells, coffee grinds, manure, banana peels etc) and let “cook” over the winter.

Feed Winter Flowers

In December, winter temperatures are still relatively mild and cold-season flowers can thrive as long as they’re tended to. Flowers like pansies and snapdragons should continue to be fed with fertilizer and watered if it’s dry.

Feed the Birds

Nothing invigorates a dull and drab winter day like watching birds peck at a bird feeder. This time of year, suitable bird food can be hard to come by, and birds could use a little help getting the nutrients they need to brave colder temperatures. Plus, bird feeders can help bring some life to a lifeless garden.


Seasoned gardeners and landscapers know that lawn care is a year-round investment. A lawn left alone during the winter months is likely to have a hard time coming back to life in the spring. This winter, remember to get outside when you can and reconnect with your landscape. Working a bit in the yard could provide welcome relief after all of that turkey and pie.

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