Planning Your Garden for the New Year

January 9, 2021 Updated: January 9, 2021

They say that hindsight is 20/20, and that is what we want to do this year: put 2020 in our hindsight. As I wrote in my first “A Greener View” column for last year: “In our mind’s eye, we see ourselves healthier, happier and leading more productive lives. The pursuit of gardening can help with all of those visions.” I didn’t realize how many people would have so much time to pursue gardening.

Let’s look ahead to gardening in the new year. Winter may have only officially started recently, but the mid-December nor’easter that socked the East Coast has many people ready to be done with winter.

Winter is a good time to plan your vegetable garden and your landscape. A good way to do that is to look at seed and plant catalogs. Go to for a list of companies that offer catalogs of seeds, plants, and gardening tools. If you decide to order seeds, order them early, as some will be in limited supply.


If you need more help in planning your landscape, winter is a good time to enlist the help of a landscape architect or landscape contractor. Both professions are often less busy in the winter and might offer discounts to do the design now and installation in the spring.

To remedy your cabin fever, go outside and inspect your landscape. Check for signs of deer, rabbit, and rodent damage to landscape plants. They especially like chewing on the trunks and stems of berry- and fruit-producing trees and shrubs.

If you live in an area that has not had much snow or rain this winter, check your landscape for dry soil and plants that need to be watered. This is especially important for new landscapes and evergreens. Give them water on the soonest day that is above freezing, and hopefully they will take in enough to survive.

If you are one of the millions of people who started growing houseplants this year, congratulations. It is a fun and healthy thing to do. You may not realize that houseplants can develop insect and mite problems in the winter. In fact, these problems can be worse indoors than out since there is no rain to wash the tiny pests off the plant. So, turn off the reruns of “Tiger King,” and check your plants for insects and mites. Most can be washed off in the shower or sink. There are insecticides on sticks or in solutions that the plants soak up to kill the pests without spraying in the house.

Many houseplants need a winter grooming, so clean up the dead leaves, and rotate them so more leaves will get some sun. Don’t store extra firewood indoors. Many insects hide in the bark, and as they warm up, they may move into your plants.

During the growing season, birds eat many insect pests on your plants. Do them a favor over the winter, and put out a bird feeder and a birdbath heater. Suet and black-oil sunflower seeds give the most calories so the birds have enough energy to stay warm. Water and shelter are also necessary, so don’t forget them when you design your landscape. A birdbath heater is designed to keep the water liquid and available for drinking during cold weather; it won’t turn the birdbath into a spa.

Email questions to Jeff Rugg at To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Copyright 2020 Jeff Rugg. Distributed by Creators Syndicate.