Plants Covered For Protection In A Garden
dec pnw
(Image credit: NADEJDA2015)

Just because winter is here doesn't mean there aren't garden chores to do. Northwest gardening in December can still be accomplished in most zones. Many Pacific Northwest gardens are temperate to mildly cool in winter and soil may even be workable. Start with a gardening to-do list so you don't forget anything and can keep on task.

About Pacific Northwest Gardens

Northwest gardening tasks seem to never end, but it can help to accomplish something every month of the year. Doing so will help you get a jump start on spring planting and make sure pests and disease don't take root in your garden. Outside of general cleanup, there are still many chores to do that will make life easier when the warm weather arrives.

Weather can really run the gamut in the Pacific Northwest. The region is slightly disputed but can broadly be considered to include northern California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Some even include Alaska and parts of southern Canada.

When you look at temperature differences from northern California up into the northern states, it is a broad range. In general, there are around 200 frost free growing days and the USDA zones are 6 through 9. This is quite a large range of temperatures and conditions.

One of the main tasks for northwest gardening in December is clean up. Torrential rains, heavy snow, and ice can really take a toll on trees. Broken limbs can be removed when they occur and downed plant material should be cleaned up. If heavy snow does occur, take some time to shake it off of bushes and trees to prevent damage.

Any sensitive plants need to be covered with frost fabric during cold snaps and some plants could use support with wire, caging, or other material. Shade or cover the southern side of young trees. You may also paint the trunk with light colored paint.

Gardening To-Do List

Northwest gardening tasks should be done as you can. If soil is not frozen, you can still install spring blooming bulbs. Other tasks may be:

  • Plant bare root trees and shrubs if soil is soft enough.
  • Keep up on watering. Damp soil helps protect roots in the event of a freeze.
  • Cover tender plants as needed.
  • Turn compost as necessary and keep moist.
  • Check lifted bulbs for mold or damage.
  • If soil isn't hard, divide perennials and replant.
  • Rake leaves, cut back perennials, and keep up on weeds.
  • Keep an eye out for rodent damage on plants and use any necessary bait or traps.
  • Get going on planning your spring garden and start order lists.
  • It's not too early to juice up the veggie bed. Spread wood ash, manure, or compost to begin amending the soil.
Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.