She calls it the “shortest garden to-do list of the year” and that is not surprising when December is the month when the weather keeps you indoors. This checklist is by Margaret Roach from her website A Way to Garden. Starting with a reminder to carry out a fire drill she then covers bird feeding and seed shopping. These are followed by sections on vegetable and flower gardens, lawn, houseplants and trees and shrubs.

THE SHORTEST garden to-do list of the year, December?s, begins with a fire drill?one final last-minute check of whatever I have forgotten to secure outdoors, before entering my own semi-dormancy and holing up with a pile of seed catalogs.
Here in the Northeast, I re-check myself around Thanksgiving, before it?s really too late, looking for a hose bib not drained for winter; a partial row of potatoes still in the ground; another skimming of the water gardens for leaves that scuttled in since my last pass. Oh, and that last bag of bulbs I seem to have misplaced?till now.
Are any non-weatherproof pots still sitting, shivering, out in the open? Are any leaves piled up but not yet shredded and inoculated with finished compost (like this) to get them started on their way to becoming future mulch or compost themselves?
Are bird-feeder poles feeders anchored well into the ground before it freezes deep (and are they either closer than 2 feet to windows, or farther than 30, to minimize bird strikes on glass)? And what about those flexible fiberglass poles or other devices meant to indicate where the driveway ends and lawn begins?key markers for a successful, safe snow-plowing season?
Windy weather can make a mess, too, so out come the saw and loppers again, and off come torn or hanging branches that would flop around and cause more damage subsequent storms.
Quick, in case you missed it: Besides mucking out leaves, the water garden needs immediate attention and winterizing, to avoid burst plumbing and suffocated frogs and fish; here?s how.
A plan for mouse and vole protection (think: trapping, and never mothballs!) must be in place in key hiding spots.
And then there?s list-making?the stuff of next year?s garden resolutions, like the ones I made one recent year. Don?t wait much longer to start taking notes on what you?ll do differently; easier while the garden?s still fresh in memory.
Those were some of the checks during the last fire drill the other day in my yard (oh?and stashing the last parsley and sage in the freezer like this); the area-by-area details follow:

best practices for the birds

IT?S FEEDER SEASON, even for those of us who don?t feed in frost-free months (or can?t, because of marauding black bear, as is my issue). I begin again when there is frost in the ground, around month?s end, or when the snows fly. Are you ready? Put out the welcome mat for the birds, like this, and also plan to help birds stay safe from window strikes and predation by cats (expert advice on that).
UNFROZEN, AVAILABLE WATER 365 days a year is the Number 1 thing you can do in support of birds and other wildlife. I keep a hole in the surface of each of my water gardens with a floating de-icer, so overwintering frogs and salamanders and fish don?t suffocate, and so birds and animals can have a drink (or a splash). Water-garden wintertime prep.

Read more at A Way to Garden
Image source: Ryan and Sarah Deeds

I am a keen gardener and so created Garden Pics and Tips for people who love gardens and enjoy great pictures of plants and gardens. Also covered are practical tips on all aspects of gardening.