Tip #1: Transplant shrubs or trees that you would like to relocate in the landscape.
If there are some shrubs or small trees that you would like to transplant/relocate in the landscape, the winter dormant season is a good time to do so. How do we know plants have gone dormant? When all the leaves have fallen from the trees we know the dormant season is here. Even in the Deep South all ornamental shrubs and trees have gone into dormancy.SEE: Transplanting & Relocating A Shrub Or Tree
Note: Some plants, such as established conifers and junipers, simply do not respond well to relocation.
Tip #2: Heavy pruning of certain shrubs and trees can be done at this time.
Caution: Do Not prune Spring flowering shrubs or trees such as Azaleas and Forsythias (Yellow Bells) until later on in the Spring after they have finished blooming.
Caution: Do Not prune Lantanas until new growth begins to emerge later on in Spring.
Tip #3: Prepare vegetable gardens for the upcoming Spring.
January is a good time to prepare your vegetable garden soil for the upcoming Spring planting season. If you do not make your own compost, most local nursery and garden centers carry products such as mushroom compost or composted cow manure that are good to replenish your garden soil with the rich organic matter necessary to successfully grow healthy vegetables. Turn at least 1/2" of organic matter into your garden soil.
Tip #4: Collect fallen leaves and add to compost pile or bin.
Veteran gardeners swear by compost. It's unrivaled for adding readily available nutrients and beneficial bacteria to vegetable garden soil, or adding to the mix when planting shrubs, trees, perennials, annuals, and container plantings, promoting healthy and vigorous growth of plants. Plus, compost is an environmentally smart way to turn houslehold food waste and vegetative landscape and garden waste into something besides a bulge in your garbage bag. Making your own compost is very easy - simply pile up leaves, clippings, kitchen scraps and other materials into a heap, and turn the pile occasional to help the facilitate fermentation.
Tip #5: Plant shrubs and trees.
Contrary to popular belief, January, and in fact the entire winter season, is a great time to plant most ornamental shrubs, trees, or groundcovers in the South. Winter planting of most dormant shrubs and trees allows them acclimate to their new environment over the winter. In spring, winter-planted shrubs and trees will then benefit the early-spring root flush. There is absoulutely no danger at all from planting most shrubs and trees in December. Professional landscape contractors plant through the entire winter!