January 06, 2021 3 min read

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season behind us, January is the perfect time to evaluate the winter garden and appreciate those aspects that may otherwise be overlooked. A mossy rock might shine with chartreuse life or a favorite tree that's usually admired for the leaves might stun you with its branching structure and vibrant bark. January also gives conifers, other evergreens, and garden artwork a chance to be in the spotlight.


Assess the needs of your garden

Take a slow walk through your winter garden. Have any plants gotten damaged? Is there anything that didn’t really fit during the last year, you didn’t enjoy, or you’d like to take out for some other reason? Maybe there is a plant that would like to be moved for different light exposure? Is there a whole section that you’d like to change? Are there any big projects you’d like to take on in the coming year?

There is no end of questions you could ask yourself about your garden. Your answers will determine how you move forward into the new year.

(Hint: we have a list of possible projects at the end of this article!)

Review notes from last year

Did you keep a garden journal? January is the perfect time to review it. If not, do you wish you had? Maybe this is the time to start, just as we move into the new year.


What do you want to grow this year? January is a great time to make a wish list! Start with a simple plant list, then look into optimal planting times and ideal conditions for each plant. Suddenly, you’ll find that your wish list has become the start of a plan!

The next step is to determine what size each plant will be when you start with it. Plant size and maturity has a lot of sway on timing. Will you grow from seed, transplants, or large established plants? Of course, the answer to this depends quite a bit on what you are thinking of growing. Lots of annual veggies and flowers are great to start from seed, but if you are pressed for time then buying transplants can be a great fit. For landscape plants and fruit trees on the other hand, the bigger the better!

Gather materials and set up place to start seeds. If you’re planning to start seeds indoors, January is a great time to assess if you have everything you need.

Here’s a quick list of supplies you might need:

  • Seed-starter soil
  • Plant lights
  • Heated seed mat
  • Trays
  • Humidity domes
  • Soil blockers or containers with drainage holes
  • Waterproof pen
  • Labels

Keep an eye out, we’ll have a more in-depth post about seed-starting coming up soon!


It’s also a great time to do research. Here are some possible research topics, read it for inspiration and try to think about what is at the top of your priority list for the new year.

We’d love to help you with any questions!

    Flower gardens and blooms
      • Edible flower garden
        • Fragrance garden
          • Cutting garden, what flowers do best when cut and brought indoors?
            • Moonlight garden, what flowers bloom at night?
              • Installing a rose garden
                • What blooming trees and shrubs are hardy in Portland?
                  • Installing a small native flower meadow
                      • What fruit grows in Portland?
                        • Planting a home orchard
                          • Espalier for small spaces
                            • Vines (grapes or hardy kiwi)
                              Veggie/herb gardening
                                • Installing garden beds
                                  • Designing a formal herb garden
                                    • What hardy perennial veggies grow in Portland?
                                      • What landscape plants are edible or have medicinal properties?
                                        Enhancing habitat for birds or pollinators
                                          • Providing habitat 
                                            • Providing food 
                                              • Providing water 
                                                Replacing your lawn
                                                  • With… steppable ground cover, perennials, flowers, veggies?
                                                    • How to do this organically?
                                                      Adding hardscape
                                                        • Garden paths
                                                          • Converting a slope into a rockery, or rock garden
                                                            • Terracing a slope for easier gardening on level surfaces
                                                              • Patios for sitting areas
                                                                  Urban farm
                                                                    • Beekeeping, setting up a hive in your backyard
                                                                      • Raising chickens, setting up your yard with a coop and run
                                                                        Environmental upgrades
                                                                          • Installing water catchment systems
                                                                            • Setting up a compost system
                                                                              • Audit your supplies to see where you can reduce waste. (Plastic!)
                                                                                • Xeriscaping (using plants that don’t require irrigation once established)
                                                                                  • Installing rain gardens
                                                                                    • Increasing the number of native plants in your garden
                                                                                      • Depaving (replacing hardtop with water-permeable surfaces)
                                                                                        • Switch to manual garden tools where you can (instead of gas or electricity)
                                                                                          • Hugelkultur (permaculture method) garden beds
                                                                                            • Installing solar-powered lighting
                                                                                              So many more! 

                                                                                                Too many questions or not enough time? We’d of course love to help you with our Garden Coaching and Installation Services. Find out more.