December is a busy time for all of us, but don’t forget to do some tidying around your yard. Being outdoors on a sunny crisp day during the holidays can be both therapeutic and exhilarating.
There are plenty outdoor gardening activities to keep you busy.
Bringing greenery in from the outdoors at the first of the year will brighten up your home during the bleaker months. Prune your evergreen shrubbery and bring the cuttings indoors. Juniper, holly and magnolia foliage can be quite decorative in your home. Use holly and nandina berries for a beautiful holiday table centerpiece.
Buy a bird feeder and birdbath and place them where people can view the birds from the inside. Birds can bring a lot of colorful activity to a yard in the winter months. This provides them with some much-needed food and water.
Buy birdseed such as black oil sunflower, thistle or suet cakes. Refill the bath if the water is frozen.
Make sure you water trees and shrubs planted in the fall. Evergreens in particular need regular watering during the winter months. Apply one gallon per foot of height.
Purchase a trellis or arbor for a lovely focal point in your front or backyard. Now is a good time to plant woody vines like Carolina jessamine, cross vine and noninvasive wisteria.
Mulch around your trees and shrubs, but make sure it is pulled away from the base of the plant and not piled too thick. The mulch will help retain moisture and keep the roots safe from hard freezes.
Also, keep a good layer of mulch over spring flowering bulbs that were planted in the fall. This will keep bulb foliage from emerging too soon.
Fill some outside decorative pots with pansies and ornamental kale to add beauty around the exterior of your home or business. Add some ivy around the side for spillover.
Container gardening is a fun gardening project during the winter months and are easy to maintain. Keep them watered regularly. There are probably some of these plants still at the big-box stores.
Fertilize your pansies, snapdragons and plants like ornamental cabbages and kale with a fertilizer high in nitrogen. This will keep the plants growing and blooming through the cooler months.
If you have houseplants or have brought some of you plants indoors for the winter, keep them in the coolest and sunniest place possible in your home. Do not set them near heat vents. Water your plants only when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Plan your spring gardens and purchase some seeds for the coming year when the weather does not permit outside activities.
Take a few soil samples for your spring gardening plans. This will ensure you have the right pH and lime requirements for planting. Bring the samples to the extension office for analysis and you will be one step ahead of the game for spring.
Hopefully you and your family can get out, enjoy the crisp weather and walk off all of the holiday overeating we all do. I know I am.
Happy New Year!
Wanda Cannon serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293. Her column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.