January Garden Tips: The 3 P’s

It might seem a time to take a break from yard work as you look out at your lifeless garden, but there’s plenty to do this month.
by Addie Ladner

Photo credit: Mike Dunn

Growing up the daughter of a horticulturist, I inherited all sorts of random knowledge: the Latin names for plants, how to compost and identify plant pests. It also means that this time of year — when I’m inclined to hibernate inside — I know there’s still important work to be done in the garden. I chatted with Greg Paige, the director of horticulture at the JC Raulston Arboretum, about what should be on my list.


“It’s a great time to start rethinking your needs and wants in your yard, like perusing plant catalogs for seeds and mapping out any redesigning you want to do,” says Paige. It’s also a good time to prep beds by adding compost, mulch and topsoil, he says: “This will get it ready for spring.”


Prune trees for shape and appearance by removing cross branches, scraggly stems or appendages that have outgrown their planned size. Remove any trees and shrubs you don’t love. “Go Marie Kondo and rip out the things that don’t bring you joy,” says Paige. 


This time of year, perhaps what’s most important is allowing yourself time to rest. My mother always reminds me to appreciate the beauty of bare trees: the patterns and textures of their bark, the sculptural shapes of their branches and the way birds and winter berries pop against the wood.  

This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of WALTER magazine