December Landscape & Garden Tips for Zone 8

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This article provides landscape and garden tips for December in Zone 8
by Brett · Zone 7B · 5° to 10° F to Zone 9A · 20° to 25° F · Growing Basics · 0 Comments · November 06, 2010 · 5,846 views

December is a good time to relocate/transplant shrubs or small trees

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. Note: Some plants, such as established conifers and junipers, simply do not respond well to relocation. SEE: How To Relocate And Transplant A Shrub Or Tree

Fertilize pansies

If you planted your pansies a month or more ago they might appreciate a dose of fertilizer now. For maximum bud and flower production fertilize pansies every 4 to 6 weeks. Make sure to use a flower food that contains "nitrate" form of Nitrogen (the first number in fertilizer).

Fertilize the fall vegetable garden.

Many of the leafy greens growing in your fall vegetable garden are heavy feeders. Feed them once every 4 to 6 weeks with an organic vegetable plant food.

Buy Vegetable Food to fertilize Vegetables online at Gardener Direct

Water plants and the lawn if necessary

Even though temperatures are cooling and many plants and lawn grasses are entering their dormant state it is important to provide supplemental irrigation when there has been little or no rainfall and the soil is dry. If there has been no rain for several weeks, and the soil becomes very dry, the roots of plants can literally be "freeze dried" in the event there are freezing temperatures. However, if you make sure to provide enough water to keep the soil around the roots moist, the roots will be encapsulated with ice, which serves as insulation.

Apply weed preventer to your lawn

Broadcast a lawn weed preventer, such as Team 2G, over your lawn during December to prevent Poa Annua (annual bluegrass), Henbit, and other cool season weeds from germinating.

Apply a weed preventer to landscape beds

To prevent weeds from emerging in your landscape beds (around shrubs and trees in mulched beds) you can apply a product containing Treflan, such as Hi-Yield Weed & Grass Stopper. Avoid using products that contain both fertilizer and weed preventer as these could stimulate new growth that could be damaged by freezing temperatures.

Plant shrubs, trees, and groundcover plants

Contrary to popular belief, November, and in fact the entire winter season, is a great time to plant most all hardy, ornamental shrubs and trees in the South. There is absolutely no danger at all from planting most shrubs and trees in November. Professional landscapers successfully plant through the entire winter! Plants planted during the cool season will require much less attention to watering and care. Too, dormant season planting allows plants to acclimate to their new home before benefiting from the big root flush in early spring. Azaleas, camellias, dogwood trees and rhododendrons are just a few plants that prefer fall planting.

Prune shrubs and trees

Because they have gone dormant, December through February is a good time to prune many types of shrubs and trees. When the leaves of maples, oaks and other trees have gone dormant you pretty much know that all shrubs and trees are dormant.

CAUTIONS: 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. Do Not prune Lantana plants until new growth begins to emerge later on in Spring. Fall pruning ensures death of the plant.

Collect fallen leaves and add them to your compost bin or pile

Making your own compost is very easy and veteran gardeners swear by it. It involves nothing more than piling up leaves, clippings, kitchen scraps and other materials into a heap, and waiting for it to ferment. Organic compost is 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. Too, compost is an environmentally smart way to turn household food waste and vegetative landscape and garden waste into something besides a bulge in your garbage bag. SEE: How to Make Your Own Compost

Purchase a container grown Christmas tree

Consider purchasing a container grown Christmas tree this season that can be planted in your landscape in the New Year!

Plant pansies and other cool season annuals

You live with your landscape 365 days a year. Winter can be full of color just like spring! By planting cool-season flowering plants, such as pansies, violas, and flowering cabbage and kale, you can keep your landscape and garden interesting even during the cooler months, when not much else is blooming. These cool-season flowering annuals are perfect for mixing in beds or containers to bring vibrant color and cheer to your winter landscape. SEE: About Pansies

Overseed dormant Bermuda lawns with winter ryegrass

If you don't like the look of your dormant Bermuda lawn and would rather see a lush, green lawn throughout the winter overseed it with winter ryegrass. Winter ryegrass will remain green during the entire cool season. As next spring arrives begin to mow the ryegrass as low as possible to allow the dormant Bermuda grass to emerge. A 50 LB bag of ryegrass usually covers from 5,000 to 7,000 square feet of lawn area. To know how much seed to purchase, measure your lawn area(s) for square footage. To determine total square footage, measure and then multiply length x width of lawn area(s). SEE: How To Calculate Square Feet SEE: How To Overseed A Bermudas Lawn With Ryegrass

Spread a thick layer of mulch around semi-hardy or tender shrubs, trees, or perennials

To insulate root systems of tender plants from freezing, such as palms, bananas and elephant ears, spread a 2 to 4 inch layer of pine straw or wood mulch around their root systems.

Bring houseplants indoors

When night time temperatures are going to drop below 50 degrees bring your houseplants (tropical foliage plants) indoors. Before bringing them indoors inspect them for insects and wash the foliage.

Water plants and the lawn when necessary

Now that winter is here and most plants and lawn grasses have gone dormant you can turn your automated irrigation system off. You can still use the system manually during prolonged periods of dry weather. In fact, it's a good idea to give all your landscape plants and your lawn a good soaking of temperatures below 25 are forecasted. The moisture in the soil will help to insulate roots; protecting them from freeze damage. However, on the other hand, if you overwater your landscape plants or the lawn during the winter months, when the evaporation process has slowed down, this could cause serious disease problems such as root rot. Only provide supplemental water when necessary.

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