Take Charge of Your Garden Chores for January

A collection of books on a garden bench.

Use this time to get the mower into the shop for a tune up and sharpening. You should be able to take a break from the lawn the rest of the month.

This is also a good time to do selective pruning on shade trees. Make a clean cut at the branch collar. See Trees, Flush Cuts and Wound Dressings from the N.C. Cooperative Extension. Cut back ornamental grasses, as well as liriope and mondo grass, before spring growth begins. Inspect house plants for insect infestations such as spider mites, scales and whiteflies.


  • Plant fruit trees, grape vines and brambles.
  • Prune grape vines and highbush blueberries.
  • Videos on pruning are available for loan from the NCSU Extension office. Just call 828-255-5522.
  • It is best not to prune fruit trees until March, especially peaches.


  • Start your garden plan on paper as you browse the garden catalogs. This will help prevent ordering more than you have room to plant.
  • After checking your seed inventory, make a list and place seed orders for things you may not be able to find locally.
  • When the soil dries out enough to work, go ahead and prepare a spot for the late February planting of peas and kale.
  • If you are maintaining winter vegetables in a greenhouse or under plastic tunnels, remember that venting on sunny days will be important to prevent over-heating.


  • Clean out bird houses and put up new ones. Bluebirds and some other songbirds start scouting for spring nest boxes in February.
  • Use deicing salt sparingly. Sweep excess salt off the pavement as soon as it has dried. Some newer salt products are less damaging to plants, but still need to be used with care.