December gardening tips
A sunny day in December can still be an enjoyable time to work in your garden.
Flowers: jobs for this month
If the ground is not too hard or wet now is a good time to plant fruit trees, whilst they are dormant during the winter months
Check that climbers are securely attached to their supports to prevent them from wind damage.
To add winter interest to your garden plant containers with ivy, skimmia, winter heather and evergreen grasses.
If the ground is not frozen there is still time to plant tulip bulbs.
Rake fallen leaves off the lawn, allowing light and air to the grass.
Remove leaves from around alpines they will die if left damp for too long. Put gritty compost around alpines to encourage regrowth.
Move trees and shrubs that are growing in an unsuitable position. Remove with a large enough root-ball to avoid root disturbance when lifting and re-planting.
Remove snow from conifers, shrubs and climbers to stop splaying, breaking of branches and spoiling of the shape.
Remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood from trees and shrubs.
Prune established roses by a third in height to prevent the wind damage.
Plant bulbs in large pots of compost ready to fill any gaps in spring borders.
Fruit & veg: jobs for this month
Continue to harvest winter vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, spinach, celeriac, beetroot and leeks. Parsnips can be left in the ground the flavor will improve as the frost helps to turn starch into sugars.
Lift new potatoes that were planted in September, save some and enjoy them on Christmas day.
If you store root vegetables in the ground during winter they are less likely to dry and deteriorate but they will be vulnerable to frosts and will rot in wet soil. Exclude frost by adding a layer of straw or cardboard held down with netting and top with polythene to act as a shield from excess rain.
Clean out the greenhouse thoroughly. Wash the glass, the floor and the staging with an horticultural disinfectant to kill any pests and diseases.
Outdoor taps need to be insulated or if not in use during the winter turn off at the mains. Also pack away garden hoses if they are not required.
Clean out and refill bird feeders with high-energy feed such as fat balls and sunflower seeds, also include peanuts now that the breeding season is over.
For festive decoration cut shoots and branches from Holly. Hollies with berries will look very attractive when used for making garlands or arranged in a vase for Christmas. Ilex Golden King is ideal as it has bright golden-edged leaves and large red berries.
Put outdoor lights on shrubs and trees to create a light and welcoming atmosphere for your relatives and friends.