With the end of the year coming, we gardeners still have several projects we need to accomplish before the New Year rings in.

We start with removing the leaves that are falling. You can rake them or mow them, but do not lower the mower blade, as you can hurt the grass if we get a cold winter. Cutting too close allows more weeds to germinate as more sunlight reaches the ground.

You can use the chopped up leaves for mulch in your vegetable garden or flowerbeds to add organic matter when you turn them into the ground in springtime. At the same time, they suppress weed growth by keeping the ground covered so sunlight does not let weed seeds germinate.

Remove any old plants in your vegetable garden and flower gardens (annuals) that are dead or finished producing. Apply a new layer of mulch to your beds to give them a finished look and make them look fresh for the holiday season.

Now is a good time to apply herbicide to control any late-summer weeds and control any winter weeds that have germinated or are about to germinate. By cleaning up the weeds, you reduce weed problems later, and it makes the lawn look better in the winter months.

If you over-seeded with annual rye grass, remember to keep cutting the lawn over the winter months so the new grass does not fall down and layer itself on your established lawn grass.

If it does fall down, moisture can get trapped close to your established grass and cause disease problems as the grass comes out of dormancy.

If you have holiday plants, make sure they stay out of cold drafts and away from heat vents. Give them sunlight during the day, and then you can move them to darker areas for the evening hours.

When watering these plants, it is best to take them to the sink and water them, and allow the excess water to drain for an hour before putting them back where you want them.

If you have plants in decorative foil, remove the foil before watering as this can trap the water and cause the plant to develop root rot and die.

Most of all, have a happy holiday season and a great New Year.

Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.