Lawn and Garden Tips and Tricks for December

Lawn

  • healthy soilGet a head start on spring lawn projects by submitting a soil test now. Keeping the soil pH in the 6.0 – 7.0 range is very important in maintaining healthy turf.
  • Hand-pull winter annual weeds now to keep them from going to seed this spring. Some common annual weeds include chickweed, henbit, hairy bittercress and dead nettle.
  • Try to avoid excessive walking on your grass when it is frozen this winter to avoid damaging the crowns of your grass plants.

Trees and Shrubs

  • evergreens covered in snowTrees and shrubs can be pruned now. Remove dead or diseased branches and make any necessary cosmetic cuts. (Watch our pruning videos.)
  • It is still a good time to mulch your landscape if you haven’t done so already. Mulch should be applied only 2-3 inches deep around ornamental plants and kept away from shrub and tree trunks.
  • Evergreens such as hollies, boxwoods, and pines can also be moderately pruned this month. The trimmings can be used for holiday decorating.

Outdoor and Indoor Insects

praying mantid egg case on tree

A praying mantis egg case is firmly attached to the Christmas tree’s stems and needles, but it can be carefully peeled from the tree. Photo: B. Malinich, OSU Extension

  • You may notice insects and spiders emerging from around your Christmas tree. They came in unnoticed on your tree. Simply escort them outside or vacuum them up.
  • The brown marmorated stink bug is settling down in nooks and crevices in houses and buildings for the winter. You may see several moving about in your home especially on warmer sunny winter days. Do not use insecticide sprays in your house to kill them. Capture and dispose of them using a vacuum. The stink bug is likely here to stay for a while, but like all insects may display fluctuating population cycles.
  • Miscellaneous beetles, like long-horned beetles and bark beetles may emerge from firewood stored inside the home. These are nuisance pests; they are not a threat to the wood in your home. You can prevent pests from coming into the house by storing firewood outside the house.

More tips from HGIC

The Home & Garden Information Center’s horticulturists are available year-round to answer your plant and pest questions. In addition to gardening questions, we cover houseplants, indoor pests, and more. Send your questions and photos to Ask an Expert!

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