What to do in your garden this month

This monthly guide is geared to London gardens and their unique conditions. Compiled by the RHS Wisley Plant Centre team
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Holly berries
© RHS/Barry Phillips
Use netting to protect a few holly berries from the birds, for use in Christmas decorations - but do leave some uncovered for winter wildlife

Must do in your garden this month

* Check that your winter protection structures are still securely in place. Winds can be harsh and unforgiving and if plants are not securely tied branches can be broken.

* Check that greenhouse heaters are working. In really cold weather you may need some background heat to help your plants survive.

* Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls).

* Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding.

* Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops.

* Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted. Make sure the hole is the correct size and depth.

* Take hardwood cuttings of your favourite plants.

* Keep mice away from stored produce.

* Reduce watering of houseplants.

Nice to do in your garden this month

* You may wish to protect a few holly berries from the birds, for use in Christmas decorations. Netting should do the job, but do leave some uncovered for winter wildlife.

* Prevent premature needle drop on your Christmas tree by choosing a pine (Pinus) or fir (Abies) tree instead of the traditional Norway spruce (Picea abies); these hold their needles for longer. Avoid placing your tree near sources of heat such as a fire or radiator. Cut trees will last longer if stood in a bucket of water or a stand with a reservoir. Saw off the bottom two to three inches of the trunk to allow the tree to drink freely.

* Continue to remove fallen leaves from lawns before they block out light and moisture to the grass.

* Packing the branches of tender deciduous trees and shrubs with straw or bracken, and securing this with fleece and ties, will protect them from frost.

* Remove weeds from around the bases of young trees.

* If there is snow in your area, then you may need to brush it off the branches of conifers, climbers and light-limbed shrubs and trees. Heavy snowfall can splay branches, break limbs and spoil the shape of the tree.

* Take note of the most colourful dogwoods (Cornus), Salix and white-stemmed Rubus shrubs when visiting gardens open to the public, or in garden centres, and consider planting them yourself, for a winter display.

* Re-cut all lawn edges to crisp up the appearance of the garden, and save work next season.

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