January is a quiet month for gardeners in the Chicagoland area. The holiday season is over, and the long nights and short days make one want to tuck in and hibernate through the worst the month has coming.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to take pleasure in: ice fishing, skating, downhill and cross-country skiing, tobogganing and winter camping. Indoor types can enjoy college and high school hoop action, and of course – SUPERBOWL!

It would seem to be a month off from gardening chores, but there are still some things which should be done, or at least thought about:

  • Avoid excessive walking on lawns when there is snowpack so as prevent compaction and snow mould later in the season.
  • Cleanly prune any storm-damaged branches from trees and shrubs.
  • Gently brush off freshly fallen snow from evergreens to prevent limbs from breaking.
  • Avoid using salt-based products on sidewalks and drives as they will damage lawns and ornamental trees and shrubs. Sand or cat litter provides good traction on slick spots as needed.
  • On warmer days, look over your garden structure and plan for the spring: see where plants can be placed, which plants may need to be moved, and write down thoughts and ideas for when the planting season begins.
  • Check seed starting supplies in preparation for planting next month.