Nature, she slumbers.

And come December, we get a rest, too. In a month known for being one of the busiest and most stressful, gardening is (fortunately) not one of the tasks to be ticked off a to-do list.

I’ll admit, the small break gives me time to focus on other interests and obligations. For those who are not content taking a break — or simply can’t stay away — here are some things to keep you grounded. They’re light on effort while keeping you outdoors — or at least in the company of nature or gardening.

Organize now, thank me later

Clean, maintain, and organize tools and pots. There’s nothing like being ready to go immediately, come spring. It’s not a glamorous job, but a necessary one to help ensure healthy plants.

Back when I was a teenager working summer breaks with a landscape architect and his plant nursery, one humble job was scrubbing pots with a solution of bleach and water. More on this disinfection technique can be found here. I recently came across an alternate idea using vinegar, but haven’t seen any data on how well it disinfects. Make sure pots are completely dry before putting them into storage.

Support wildlife

Like watching birds? Enjoy helping wildlife? You can help wintering birds by making bird seed ornaments. Support birds further by properly cleaning and filling your feeders with food appropriate for the types of feathered friends that winter in your area, creating protected areas, and being mindful of other needs, like fresh water.

Tuck ‘er in

Use boughs from Christmas tree cuttings to provide protective mulch on beds. It’s also a good use of your tree after the holidays. Loppers will do the trick to remove the branches — and you’re protecting the garden and providing a space for critters until you remove them next spring.


Dream and get ready for next year with the catalogs that will inevitably start to arrive in early January. Jot down any learnings and observations you haven’t already made as you put together your 2020 plans.

Learn and grow

If you can squeeze it in, consider a visit a local arboretum or garden for an outdoor walk or cozy stroll through the heated glass houses. Many also have interesting programs and workshops to attend during the winter months.

Cultivate that indoor garden

Create a little burst of spring indoors by forcing your favorite bulbs. Coddle those house plants (Millennials: this is your thing).

Stay indoors

High on my list if I have to stay inside: Nestling by the fireplace, listening to music — or to the crackling fire. It’s the perfect spot to tackle projects that suffered with the summer sun, the smell of warm earth, and those other lovely summer distractions.