There are always things to do in the garden in December. These simple gardening tasks will offer some calm and relief amid the busyness of the festive season. So, here are our top jobs to get done in the garden this month.
- Don’t smash the ice on a pond with a spade as the shock waves could kill fish or other wildlife. Create a breathing hole by putting a rubber ball in the water before it freezes, removing it once ice forms.
Prep Beds and borders
potted plant care
• Potted plants are vulnerable to water logging over winter, which can cause root rot. Raise them up onto pot feet or stand on bricks, to allow excess moisture to drain away.
• Water pots when necessary to counteract the dry winter winds.
Trees and shrubs
• Cut off dead stems of wall shrubs and climbers, then tie in any wayward shoots to prevent them being snapped off in windy weather.
• Remove any dead, diseased or dying branches from deciduous trees.
- Leave out bowls of fresh water for wildlife to bathe and drink.
- Don’t throw out any scraps, birds love bits of cheese, pasta, and bread.
- Plant a feast of berry-filled bushes that birds and other wildlife can enjoy during the cold months.
• Why not spruce up the bare branches in the garden with fairy lights or decorative baubles in spirit of the festive season.
- Use broken twigs to make ornaments for your trees and gift toppers. Star twigs are a favourite.
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Pruning is an essential job that is often overlooked, but with a little planning and preparation in advance then we can easily maintain the long term health and vibrancy of the garden. For larger trees it can sometimes be safer and easier to consult a professional, but most pruning is a simple do it yourself job.
Why do I need to prune?
- Promotes healthy development – By removing the old, dying or weak branches from the trees/shrubs this will allow the structure to become stronger and flowering thus to become more prolific and less prone to disease.
- Maintain the ornamental appearance – Removing damaged or wayward shoots will stop the branches from becoming entangled and messy.
- Controls height and shape – If you are looking to keep certain plants, such as climbers or vigorous growing shrubs from becoming unmanageable, then regular and hard pruning will be a must.
- Promotes flowering and fruiting – Proving can improve air circulation, should result in more flowers or a much better and larger crop year on year for fruit.
How to Prune
As a starting point cut back and remove all dead and diseased wood. Always work with the natural habit and structure of the tree or shrub, to encourage continued natural growth. This can be followed up with removing any crossing or rubbing branches at the centre of the plant. By removing these branches which can act as a barrier to further growth, you will in fact improve circulation around the shrubs/tree, helping to reduce the likelihood of plant disease.
When removing stems, we suggest cutting at a little above healthy buds, cutting back around 0.5cm above. Never cut back and leave short stubs. Make all cuts perpendicular to the branch and close to the branch collar to facilitate rapid healing.
For fruit trees, its important to encourage healthy growth and a bumper crop of fruit. It’s critical to prune before the buds appear from mid-late spring. Make sure that any rubbing or branches that cross each other are trimmed back completely. Identify damaged or weakened branches and remove these also. Create a simple open structure where the side shoots can develop and become stronger.
SHOP SHRUBS AND TREES NOW
For more information, follow the links below to read our previous posts on pruning different plants;
How and when to Prune Ornamental Trees and Shrubs
How and when to Prune Climbing Plants
How and when to Prune Fruit Trees
How and when to Prune Roses