January Garden Tips

Once Christmas and New Year have passed by and the decorations are packed away for another year January can be a cold, dark month when we can experience the worst of the year’s weather.  Dormancy will continue in the garden for a few weeks yet but there are some jobs to do in the garden that can help to work off some of the festive excess with some fresh air and exercise.

When the weather allows take a walk round your garden taking a hoe with you so you can get rid of any weeds that have managed to germinate and deadhead winter bedding to prolong and improve flowering.  Trim faded flowers from winter flowering heathers and start to cut back to ground level any grasses and other perennials that have been left for winter interest.  Clear any rotting leaves from the crowns of perennials so they have as much light as possible.  Cut any scruffy looking leaves from Hellebores that produce flowers at ground level to highlight the flowers and prevent disease.   Deciduous hedges, trees and shrubs can be pruned to shape, its easier to see where trimming is needed whilst the branches are bare.  Shorten shoots on Wisteria by to or three buds from the main stem.  Climbing hydrangea can also be pruned now. Bare-rooted hedges, trees and shrubs can be planted when the weather allows and overgrown perennials can be dug up and split before replanting or potting to increase plant stocks.  Sweet peas can be sown.  Soak the seeds overnight before sowing in long sweet pea tubes, sweet peas like to have a long root run.  Keep under cover and moist with plenty of light in a greenhouse or cold frame.

If you have areas of your lawn with water logging improve drainage by using a garden fork  to pierce holes about 10cm deep very 20cm, at the same time rake off any worm casts.  Avoid walking on your lawn in frosty weather when snow is laying as it can damage the grass.  After heavy, prolonged snowfall the lawn may turn yellow but don’t worry it will soon recover in the spring.

After a frost it is a good idea to check any newly planted shrubs, trees and perennials as the frost can lift them, firm down the soil around plants as necessary.  Check tree ties and stakes, tightening or replacing them as if needed to ensure that they can withstand any strong winds.  Also check any wooden structures such trellis, fences, sheds, pergolas and archways and repair and strengthen them as necessary, any wooden furniture that remains outdoors can be given a fresh coat of preservative.

If there is snow fall gently shake it from evergreens and other delicate trees and shrubs as soon as possible to prevent damage  Apply salt to paths that are needed for access so they don’t freeze and become dangerous.

In the vegetable garden when conditions allow, continue to dig over any bare areas of soil and add organic matter in preparation for planting in spring.  Bare root fruit trees and shrubs can still be planted and continue to prune and train existing fruit.

If the weather is adverse start planning for the year ahead in the flower and vegetable garden.  Think about ordering perennials, flower and vegetable seeds or plug plants and summer flowering bulbs ready for planting in the spring.  Stock up on stakes, canes, garden string, seed trays, pots and compost ready for the growing season.

When it is freezing outside remember to gently melt a hole in ponds and bird baths to ensure birds can drink, leave any berries on plants to provide food for wildlife and keep bird feeders topped up to provide extra food.