December Landscape & Gardening Tips & To-dos

Need help planting a successful garden or landscape? Here are some December planting tips from the Dallas Arboretum horticulture staff and the Dallas County Master Gardeners that can help keep your home garden looking beautiful this winter, whilst having it ready and set up for success in Spring! Plant care should be your focus in December. Take a break from the garden and enjoy the holidays!


  • Plant shade trees, fruit trees, and evergreen shrubs.
  • Relocate established and continue planting ‘balled & burlap’ trees and shrubs while they are dormant.
  • Plant pre-chilled tulip and hyacinth bulbs (late December/early January). Plant daffodil and grape hyacinth immediately after purchase.
  • Plant pansies, flowering kale and cabbage, dianthus, cyclamen, violas and other cool season annuals.
  • Select holiday season plants such as poinsettias, cyclamens, amaryllis, and paper white narcissus.


  • Prune evergreen trees such as magnolias, live oaks, and wax myrtles to minimize possible ice damage if needed.
  • Re-shape evergreen shrubs if needed.
  • Do major re-shaping of shade trees, if needed, during the winter dormancy.

 Plant Care:

  • Water live Christmas trees as needed and water holiday plants such as poinsettias as needed.
  • Check houseplants for insect pests such as scale, mealy bugs, fungus gnats, whitefly and spider mites.
  • Continue to mulch leaves from the lawn. Shred excess leaves and add to planting beds or compost pile. Replenish finished compost and mulch in planting beds, preferably before the first freeze.
  • Water thoroughly before a hard freeze to reduce plants’ chances of damage.
  • Fertilize pansies and other winter annuals as needed.
  • Water lawn and all other plants once every three weeks or so, if supplemental rainfall is less than one inch in a three-week period.
  • Protect tender plants from hard freezes. Switch sprinkler systems to ‘Manual’ mode for the balance of winter.
  • Be sure to clean, sharpen and repair all your garden and lawn tools. Now is also the best time to clean and have your power mower, edger and trimmer serviced.
  • Be sure the mower blade is sharpened and balanced as well.
  • Provide food and water to the area’s wintering birds.
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