December is a busy and festive time: shopping, decorating, and entertaining are all top activities this month.

Usually Chicago has already experienced one or two good snowstorms by December, but some years Fall lingers long into the month. By now planting chores and Winter preparations have been completed in the garden and the yard, but there may be some leftovers from November’s list:

– Early in the month, ensure roses are protected. Mound soil, mulch and leaves around the base of the plants to about 18-24. above the base of the bushes, especially for hybrid tea, floribunda and any other roses which have been growing in the yard less than 2 years or are marginally hardy in this area. While some of the bush roses such as the Explorers, Rugosas, Mordens and Buck’s roses can overwinter successfully, protection would still be a good idea.
– Remove hoses from faucets and drain to prevent damage to hoses and plumbing.
– Take cuttings of holly and evergreen boughs indoors for Christmas decorating. Fill outdoor window boxes with Christmas greens and decorative bows.
– Continue to keep bird feeders filled. Birds offer a lot of Winter interest.
– Tie evergreens such as yews, juniper and arborvitae in a spiral fashion with rope or twine to reduce damage from ice or snow.
– Living Christmas trees need special care: do not leave inside your home more than one week, and then acclimate to outdoors in a cool (not freezing) for several days before planting in a desirable location. Do not keep inside too long as it will break dormancy.