The weather is definitely turning colder, and there is still a few little reminders of small tasks for your lawn, trees and shrubs, flowers, vegetables and fruits, before the ground completely freezes and the snow sets in. There are still a few December tips on taking care of your houseplants as well.
- Rake fallen leaves from the lawn to prevent suffocation.
- Keep limbs and other debris picked up from the lawn.
- Negotiate lawn service contract for next year.
- Store fertilizers in a dry location, out of reach of children and pets.
- Store pesticides in a cool, not freezing dry location out of reach of children and pets.
- Winterize power equipment by changing oil, draining gas and lubricating all moving parts.
- Evaluate the garden and make notes to assist in planning.
- Mulch roses, only those that are grafted by mounding soil 6 to 8 inches deep over the plants.
- Roses grown on their own roots such as the easy care Knock Out roses need no winter mulching.
- Cut tall hybrid tea roses back to 18 to 24 inches to reduce wind whipping and plant damage.
- Easy care or shrub roses need no winter pruning.
- Mulch perennial beds witha 2 to 4 inch layer of straw, shredded leaves or other lightweight material.
- Remove old stems and growth on perennials
- Pull and discard dead annuals
- Till garden soil and incorporate 2 to 4 inches of organic matter
- Review new garden catalogs and make selections
- Test the soil to help determine soil needs for the next growing season.
- Continue to plant spring flowering bulbs, water and mulch.
- Give plants or gift certificates as holiday gifts for gardening friends.
DECEMBER TREES and SHRUBS
- Keep heavy snowfall from limbs of trees and shrubs by lightly shaking.
- Avoid shoveling snow onto trees and shrubs to prevent breakage and prolonged snow cover.
- Protect the trunks of young trees and branches of shrubs from rabbit damage.
- Living Christmas trees are special, leave in the home no longer than one week.
- Prune damaged branches throughout the winter months.
- Water newly planted trees and shrubs in winter to prevent dry soil conditions.
- Mulch roots of tender shrubs such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons.
- Prune branches of junipers, pines, hollies,and other plants to use as holiday decorations.
DECEMBER VEGETABLES and FRUITS
- Till soil and incorporate organic matter such as compost or manure.
- Take a soil test and make needed recommended improvements.
- Store leftover seeds in a cool, dry location such as a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
- Turn compost pile to encourage winter breakdown.
- Check vegetables in storage for spoilage.
- Mulch strawberries for winter protection.
- Protect trunks of fruit trees from rabbit damge with tree wraps.
- Pick up fallen fruit and discard to reduce disease and insect problems.
- Clean and oil garden hand tools for winter
- Repair equipment now to avoid spring rush
- Start planning for next year by making notes and preparing orders.
- Enjoy poinsettias longer by placing them in brigh light, keeping them away from hot and cold drafts, and watering evenly so the soil does not dry out.
- Purchase holiday plants such as cactus and amaryllis for a festive touch.
- Watch plants for signs of insect infestations and treat as needed
- Wash plants occasionally to remove dust layers that develop.
- Rotate plants in the light to produce a balanced plant.
- Water as needed to keep soil moist and avoid standing water in plant trays.
- Reduce or quit fertilizing during the winter.
- Give plants as holiday gifts.
- To avoid leaf damage, watch for hot or cold drafts.
*Information gathered from Johnson County K-State Research and Extension. They offer free information fact sheets, and can be visited at www.johnson.ksu.edu. You will find many helpful articles at yardandgardenrescue.com for all your yard and gardening needs.