General Tasks and Garden Maintenance
Carry on digging over beds and borders and incorporate as much organic matter as you can. Forking over not only helps prepare the soil for next year, it helps reduce pests by exposing them to hungry birds. Protect pots and taps from frost by wrapping insulation around them‚ bubble wrap is ideal.
Clear paths of moss and lichen, treat timber with preservative, repair fences, check sheds and walls (but avoid any concreting until there is no chance of frost), clean and insulate greenhouses, and ensure heaters are working properly.
Even a little insulation will make a huge difference to your heating bill. Clean and repair your garden tools and have your lawn mower serviced.
New tools are a welcome present, as are new gardening gloves, especially good quality ones. Clear debris‚ this is vital to prevent slugs and snails. Make leaf mould out of fallen leaves‚ they will rot down into fertile matter after a year (two for oak leaves).
Store wet leaves (they must be wet to rot) in large black plastic sacks forked with holes or piled into a chicken wire container or similar. Failing that, add them to the compost heap. Take care not to let leaves accumulate around alpines‚ they will die if left damp for long.
Cover bare patches around clumps with gritty compost to encourage regrowth.
Trees, Shrubs and Climbers
From now until March is the ideal time to plant bare rooted deciduous hedging - the most economical way to establish a hedge. Beech and hornbeam (similar to beech but more suitable for heavy soils) both keep their leaves over the winter and are therefore good for screening.
Hawthorn is the‚ country classic‚ perfect for a natural looking yet almost impenetrable barrier.
Prepare a trench, preferably a week or so before planting to give the soil a chance to settle. Wait until the ground is neither sodden nor frozen and plant away. Cut shoots and branches for winter decoration.
If you have holly berries net some of them for Christmas otherwise the birds will have them. Secure netting firmly to prevent birds becoming trapped in loose folds.
Make a Christmas wreath using evergreen sprigs from your garden, decorations such as berries and fir cones, dried orange slices, cinnamon sticks and wide, wired ribbon.
Lawns If the weather allows, repair holes and tatty patches in your lawn. If it is waterlogged, as most will be after the November deluges, or even frozen try and avoid walking on it‚ damage is easily inflicted.
Flowers and containers
Put bark chips around hellebores to protect the delicate blooms from rain splashes and cut off any leaves with black spots on them as this is a fungal disease. Bring in any tender plants that are not already in shelter. Bulbs should really be planted already, but if you haven't quite got around to it, put them in the ground as soon as you can.
Raise containers onto feet or bricks to protect them from wet and cold and lag them with bubble wrap, hessian or fleece if not frost proof.
In really cold weather even hardy plants may need protecting so hunt out any insulating material.
Remove debris regularly to prevent pests from taking up residence and brighten up dull pots and containers with winter pansies and winter flowering heathers.
Plant fruit trees and bushes as long as the soil is neither too wet nor frozen. Prune established apple and pear trees (not those grown against a wall)‚ keep the centre of the tree fairly open to allow air to circulate freely which helps avoid disease.
Ensure any crossing and rubbing branches are cut out‚ open wounds will only encourage disease. If you are unsure about how to prune, please ask for advice at the garden centre.
Check stored fruit and throw out any that show the slightest sign of rotting to avoid ruining your entire crop. Harvest leeks, Brussels sprouts (from the bottom upwards), carrots, parsnips (after a frost) and winter cabbages.
Earth up winter brassicas to help protect them from wind‚ if your sprouts are very tall it will pay to cane them. Remove yellow leaves as these encourage fungal disease.
And last but by no means least have a lovely Christmas!
Let us know you're tips in the comments section below, we'd love to hear from you.