January Lawn & Garden To-Do List

Pansies blooming

Annuals and Containers

  • Continue to protect tender container plants from freezing temperatures.
  • Keep watering containers.
  • Feed winter-blooming pansies with a bloom-boosting fertilizer.
  • Start seeds indoors for summer annuals.


Fruits and Vegetables

  • Inspect stored fruits and vegetables (such as apples and potatoes) for decay. Throw away any that look spoiled, and increase air circulation to reduce further damage.

  • If your winter vegetables are looking yellow, add some nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Prune dormant fruit trees and grape vines.
  • Continue applying dormant spray to fruit trees. Don’t spray during wind, rain, or freezing temperatures.
  • Sow seeds indoors for spring vegetable planting.


Continue these chores from previous months:

  • Keep houseplants out of drafts and in the brightest spot possible.
  • Increase humidity around tropical plants.
  • Reduce fertilization, but continue watering (may water less often, but the same amount). Make sure your water is room temperature.
  • Address any insect and disease problems.
  • Keep plants clean by gently wiping or rinsing.

Also, you can:

  • Give extra protection on chilly nights by closing drapes and making sure plants don’t touch cold glass.
  • Give your holiday cactus a rest this month, by watering sparingly but keeping it in indirect light.
  • Repot any indoor plants that are pot-bound.
  • Cover or wrap new houseplants when transporting to keep them from freezing on the trip home.

Cleanup and Maintenance

Continue these chores from previous months:

  • If the ground isn’t frozen, install French drains, bury downspouts and drainage pipes, and watch for drainage problems in the garden.
  • Have your soil tested to determine if supplements are needed.
  • Till workable soil and work in amendments. This gives you the added benefit of exposing buried insect eggs and larvae to hungry birds.
  • Don’t forget to feed the birds!
  • Clean, oil, and repair garden tools.
  • Take in your lawn mower in for blade sharpening or repairs – the repair shops are much less busy this time of year.

Also, you can:

  • Inspect and repair leaky or water-damaged sheds, porches, and garden structures.
  • Build fences and walkways, and install trellises and structures before the vines start growing.
  • Busy gardens make lonely gardeners – use the winter to join a garden club, start a garden blog, or otherwise connect with fellow gardeners.
  • Add cooled fireplace ashes to your compost pile.
  • Don’t use salt on frozen driveways and sidewalks – it can damage surrounding plants. Instead, use sand, organic kitty litter, or sawdust.
  • Clean your stored containers using a little vinegar or bleach. Smash broken clay pots and store the shards to use as drainage in the spring.
  • Garden catalogs start arriving in earnest this month. Sit by the fire and make your wish list.
  • January is the prime month for planning! Read the gardening books you received as gifts, make landscape diagrams of your existing garden, and work out your design for the next growing season.

A new top for the bird-feeder pole is on my to-do list to keep from embarrassing the birds!


  1. I have planted fruit trees in my yard in the country. I found deer have eaten the first fruits. What is the best way to keep the deer away on fruit trees? I have 10 trees spaced about 20 feet apart.

  2. I have grape vines on my fence row. They haven’t been trimmed nack in years. I like the privacy that provide but they are getting out of hand. How can they be trimmed back so they look better and when should this be done?
    Thank you

  3. Should I still water plants outside esp. when its cold?

    When the elephant ears die down I usually cut them to ground level and they come back in the spring is that ok.

  4. A landscaper planted a crepe mytle about 2 years ago. It hasn’t grown at all and pretty much looks dead (leaves are brown). I live in So. California. Thx…

  5. Great information. You always bring us up to date information, stated in easy to understand terms and it is not overwhelming. I appreciate that and I look forward to what is next.


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