This Month in the Garden: December

House & Garden Magazine, December 1937

House & Garden Magazine, December 1937

On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
Waiting all its life, snow says, “Let me cover you.”

— Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter

For the lawn:

  • Check your lawn for any problems and treat them when necessary.
  • Prepare your lawn equipment for winter storage: drain fuel tanks; clean off residual grass or plant material and empty the lawn mower’s grass catcher; check fuel filters, air filters and spark plugs and replace as needed. Use a silicone grease or spray on all exposed bare metal to prevent rusting before storing.

In the garden:

  • Keep up with yard maintenance. Remove any withered stalks and winter weeds, and mulch your flower beds. Taking the time now saves work later.
  • Check perennials and cut back overgrowth to encourage new growth.
  • Check your stored fruit, vegetables, and flower bulbs; remove any rotting ones.
  • Check for rodent damage around bases of trees and shrubs. Use traps and bait as needed.
  • Monitor your houseplants to make sure that they are getting adequate water and nutrients.
  • Protect new landscape plants from the wind; use stakes or windbreaks as needed.
  • During heavy rain, check your yard for drainage problems. Consider upgrades to your water systems, such as drip irrigation.
  • If you have poinsettias, keep them away from cold windows and place in sunlight. Fertilize with a houseplant fertilizer.
  • Start thinking about your lessons learned from the past gardening season as you think about next year!

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