Winter gardening tips

Planned raised beds, blueberry bushes planted in winter

Design your garden, winter-pruning, feeding birds, and cleaning tools are all winter gardening activities you can enjoy

One of the best projects is designing and planning your garden during the winter months while you dream of planting veggies. It’s also a great time to clean garden tools, properly care for trees, prune and monitor the landscape for problems.

There are also best practices if you’re interested in feeding wild birds throughout the winter. This is a great time to get to know bird calls too!

Blueberry bushes in a planned spring raised bed

Blueberry bushes in a planned spring raised bed

Design your spring garden

First, assess your garden needs! Whether you’re looking for a calming retreat or an easy-care garden, there is one step you need first, planning!

  • Set your priorities, your budget, and overall site constraints.
  • Consider quick fixes first and an interim make-over before you overhaul a new garden
  • Start with a bare site if possible as it’s easier and consider the soil you have in place
  • Gardeners can even play around with plans by using a grid and illustrating the routes, shapes, spaces, and focal points.
  • Creating wood-framed raised beds is easy, and there are pieces pre-cut to length.
  • Start planting!

Cleaning garden tools

Winter Tool Care

This activity is super easy to take care of during the winter months. Cleaning tools and garden equipment is a great project that you can do over a few weekends. Clean or discard any old pots and trays that you don’t plan to use and check if tools need to be sharpened. Have your lawnmower serviced!

Winter tree care

Courtesy of the City of Vancouver Urban Forestry

Baby cherry tree planted in the winter

Baby cherry tree planted in the winter

Winter is a good time to have existing trees professionally inspected. According to the City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry program, “Healthy trees provide shade, reduce energy costs, prevent soil erosion, beautify landscapes, and filter air and water. Trees can add significant value to the property. If properly cared for, trees can live a very long time.” Inspect all your trees and remove dead branches to improve tree shape and structure.  


Proper pruning and maintenance are the best way to manage storm-related tree damage.

  • Cut out any old canes of blackberries after they have fruited.
  • Remove any netting from plants to prevent damage if snowfalls.
  • Always cover peaches, apricots, and nectarines to protect their blooms from leaf curl and early spring frost.
  • In winter, you should plant bare-root plants as soon as they arrive before the soil is frozen.
  • Have a layer of mulch around the base of all trees to insulate the roots going into this winter season.

The City of Vancouver’s Urban Forestry group explains that “After a storm, trees with possible damage should be evaluated by a certified arborist before any decision is made regarding removal.”

Consider feeding the birds! Put food out regularly, and different mixes are available for feeders and bird tables.

For more information/questions about winter tree care, call 360-487-8308 or email ur***********@ci*************.us.


January Gardener’s To-Do List

  • Begin planning this year’s vegetable garden. Keep a garden journal to plan for each growing season.
  • Reapply or redistribute mulch that has blown or washed away during winter.
  • Water landscape plants underneath wide eaves and other sites shielded from the rain.
  • Clean pruners and other small garden tools with rubbing alcohol.
  • Check cherry trees for symptoms of bacterial canker.
    Remove infected branches with a clean pruner or saw.
  • Mid-January: Spray peach trees with approved fungicides to combat peach leaf curl and shot hole.
  • Monitor landscape plants for problems. Don’t treat unless a problem is identified. *


*Ask about the Master Gardener Plant Clinic for help with diagnostics!