Yes, You Can Enjoy Your Yard! Here's How

In mild climates, there’s still time to plant a more merry camellia in a kettle near the front door and put in bulbs to get a big spring show. In colder areas, it’s time to gather boughs in the yard for new structures inside and out. In the Southwest, luminarias make outdoor rooms shine, and in the Northeast, feeders bring the birds out, the best attributes a winter garden could hope for. Here Is What to do in December in your region of the U.S.

Northwest | California | Southwest | Texas | Rocky Mountains
Central Plains | Great Lakes | Northeast | Mid-Atlantic | Southeast


California. “‘Yuletide’ Sasanqua camellia (USDA zones 7–10) has the ideal colour and timetable for holiday screen,” says California backyard editor Bill Marken. “It blossoms in late fall and early winter, bright red with a yellow centre. The evergreen shrub is tall and slim for a Sasanqua, perfect for a thin slot. Look for a flowering plant today, and put it in a kettle near the door.”

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Southwest. “While the holidays often bring on active activities, there’s no reason that these times cannot consist of downtime to enjoy your own surroundings,” writes New Mexico landscape designer David Cristiani. “Any size backyard can make a hospitable welcome and be a memorable entertainment area for homeowners and guests alike. Luminarias add a bit of regional ambience to the holiday scene.”

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Le jardinet

Northwest. “Within just a few minutes, you can spruce up your container gardens to be ready for the holidays,” writes Washington container garden designer Karen Chapman. “Simply tuck in a few decorations, cones and cut evergreen boughs.”

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Paintbox Garden

Northeast. “Feeders hung from branches or wrought iron poles set in strategic places can offer many hours of viewing pleasure,” writes Vermont picture designer Charlotte Albers. “Make sure to put in your feeder sticks until the ground freezes solid. It’s true that birds are the blossoms of the winter garden, bringing colour and pleasure!”

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Gardening with Confidence®

Southeast. “Whip your strands out and look on your backyard,” writes North Carolina gardener Helen Yoest. “December is a prime time to prune evergreens anyway. Burford, Foster and Nelly Stevens hollies usually have good colour in their berries today. Recut the stems at an angle and then insert them in a bucket of warm water for many hours to condition before using.”

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Barbara Pintozzi

Great Lakes. “Instead of purchasing a front-door wreath, fill a vintage ice skate together with greenery in the garden,” suggests garden coach Barbara Pintozzi. “A small round of floral foam stuck in the trunk of the boot supports the trimmings. Spray conifer greenery having an antidessicant to keep it fresh, and add small ornaments or candy canes to complete the appearance.”

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The Todd Group

Texas. “This is the last opportunity, in most cases, to plant bulbs — and the first part of the month will be your best time,” says garden designer Jenny Peterson. “Plant daffodils, hyacinths, Louisiana irises, jonquils, cannas, gladiolus and dahlias.”

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The Garden Consultants, Inc..

Rocky Mountains. Mix evergreen boughs, brightly colored branches, berries, pinecones and seed heads for potted arrangements, wreaths and swags for outdoor decor that will last through the holidays, indicates Colorado landscape designer Jocelyn H. Chilvers. “Not enough selection of materials to choose from in your own backyard? Plan a cuttings exchange celebration with a buddy or 2.”

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Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens

Central Plains. “A very simple rain chain is something neat to have outdoors in winter, and it grabs the sunlight like an engagement ring’s bead,” writes Benjamin Vogt, a Nebraska native prairie garden adviser. “You know, it is the time of year. Perhaps a rain chain would be a better choice for your sweetheart?”

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