UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

New Year, New Garden! January Gardening Tips

January is a great time to maintain, clean, and sharpen your garden tools. Photo © UC Regents.

Happy New Year from the statewide UC Master Gardener Program. Gardening in January can be a challenge with the cold weather and shorter days. However, January can be an excellent month for garden maintenance and preparing your landscape for spring and summer.

From giving your garden a makeover to planning for a vegetable garden, there are endless opportunities to stay active in the garden in January. What steps can you take to improve your garden this month? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Watch weather reports. Accordingly, protect your plants from frost and other weather conditions. Cover them when necessary and adjust watering both for cooler temperatures and for seasonal rains.

  2. Don't forget about your houseplants. Make sure to keep your houseplants watered, as they tend to dry out from indoor heating during the winter months.

  3. Clear dead plants and debris. Give your garden a clean look for the New Year and allow more space for new growth. Don't forget to pull out weeds.

  4. Keep your garden tools sharp and clean. Avoid rust and dullness and prepare for the pruning that takes place in January and February.

  5. Prune dead or damaged branches. Since January is the dormant season, it is the ideal time to prune. Prune your fruit trees while avoiding apricot and cherry trees. For more instructions on how to prune, check out this pruning guide.

  6. Start your vegetable garden indoors. Expand your growing season and start seeds, you can plant cabbage, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and spring lettuce, to name a few. You can also start them in a cold frame or greenhouse.

  7. Plant flower bulbs. Get a jump start on planting flower bulbs this month, which can lead to a longer spring bloom!

  8. Plan your spring and summer vegetable garden. Design a garden plan now to prepare for spring planting. A great first step is to draw a map of your garden on grid paper and consider which seeds you want to plant and where.

January is a time of new beginnings, including in your garden. By preparing now, you can expect fantastic results in the spring and summer months.

Ask your local UC Master Gardener Program

January can be an unusual time in the gardening world, but we are here to help. For more gardening help and local county resources, click here to Find a Program. You will be redirected to your local county website and contact information. UC Master Gardener volunteers are available to help answer questions for FREE about your garden. 

Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 11:52 AM
Tags: Gardening (22), Tips (2), UC Master Gardener (2), Winter (1)


Xerces recommends leaving the dead plants and "debris" as overwintering sites for invertebrates, including our beloved pollinators. Current recommendations for dormant pruning include NOT pruning any stone fruit, including plums and all the intergeneric hybrids and walnuts, at least in moist areas such as near the coast, due to increased disease risk. Up here in the far north coast of California, we also start seeds of all the onions now in the greenhouse, for later transplant. Thanks for the article!

Posted by Terry Allaway on January 4, 2023 at 8:23 PM

Please consider amending your comments about “cleaning up” garden plants and debris. There is growing evidence overwintering invertebrates, including native bee species, depend on this debris to survive into spring. Go to Xerces Society if you need more information.

Posted by Michelle Graydon on January 6, 2023 at 8:16 AM

You can always learn more.

Posted by Cary on January 23, 2023 at 4:47 AM

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