When it comes to gardening, winter is often seen as a dormant season – a time to take a look back at what worked and what didn’t in your garden over the last year. But there is a lot more to winter garden than this, and planning for the year ahead.
To help you make the most out of your garden over the coming months, below we’ve shared some of the essential gardening tasks you should be carrying out between December and February.
December Gardening Tasks:
If December is a mild month, you may need to give your lawn a once over with the lawnmower, whilst you should also be using your garden vacuum to remove any fallen leaves which may be scattered across your lawn, flowerbeds and patio.
Other tasks to carry out include:
- Check the guttering and drains to ensure they’re not blocked by any winter debris. If they are, clear them to ensure rain water can flow through them without being obstructed.
- Clean, maintain and repair garden tools including spades, forks and secateurs. These will have been put through heavy use over the last year and December is the ideal time to give them a clean and a once over.By giving your tools a clean and once over, not only can you check for any damage which needs repairing, such as cracks on spades or blunt blades on secateurs which need sharpening, but you’ll also be able to help prevent the build up of rust which can transfer diseases into the soil when the tools are next used.
- Talking of diseases, you should keep an eye out for grey mould which can form on spent herbaceous plants and will need to be removed. Other diseases to look out for include crown rot and brown rot, which can occur on perennials which have died down, particularly those in poorly drained soil.
- Although you may not need to cut your lawn during December, you shouldn’t ignore it, especially if you want it to remain in top condition next year.We therefore recommend you keep an eye out for any “low spots” where puddles form after heavy rain and repair damaged areas. It’s also important to make sure you don’t walk on the grass during a frost or after a heavy rain, as this can damage the grass.
- Prune any open grown apple and pear trees, along with birches and vines – and by pruning the latter two before Christmas it will prevent them from bleeding. You should also look to harvest any leeks, parsnips and sprouts you may have been growing.
- If you’re lucky enough to have it growing in your garden, harvest holly with berries and make your own Christmas garlands or wreathes. When doing this, if you’re not going to use the holly immediately, make sure it is left to stand in a bucket of water.
January Gardening Jobs:
As the New Year arrives and the celebrations have died down, it’s time to get back into the garden, and although many of the essentials tasks roll over from December, there are some additional ones which you’ll need to carry out and these include:
- Digging over any flowerbeds and borders which need to be planted in early spring. By doing this during January it gives frost the time to act and break down the soil, making it easier to get a fine tilth in spring.Whilst digging over the flowerbeds, we would also suggest you dig in some well-rotted manure, providing the soil with extra nutrients and helping plants to grow once they’re planted.
- Servicing your lawnmower ready for spring. This involves sharpening the blades and giving it a once over to ensure it is all in top condition, and to do this we recommend you read “How to Sharpen Your Lawnmower Blades” and “Don’t Let Your Lawnmower Ruin Spring”.
- If you had a real Christmas tree, and you’re not planning on planting this in your garden, recycle it at home by shredding it and turning it into mulch. This mulch can then be used later on within your garden.
- Plant bareroot deciduous hedging plants and trees, although take care when doing so and it is recommended to place a stake into the ground before the rootball to avoid any damage being caused to the roots.During January you can also plant roses and move any establish deciduous trees and shrubs, as long as the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged.
- With frosts more common place during January, it’s important to look after nature (which in turn will look after your garden), so make sure during the month you place out bird feeds, along with food on the ground.Keeping the frost in mind, you also need to make sure you’ve protected any plants both outside and in your greenhouse from the cold snap, and the best way to do this is to cover them.
February Gardening Essentials:
February, a month of love – so make sure you’re showing your garden some by carrying out these essential gardening tasks:
- Break any flowerbeds dug over during January, making sure to turn them into a fine tilth ready for sowing at the end of the month / early March.
- Scarify your lawn if it has become thatchy or if moss has taken over. If you don’t have an electric scarifying brush, you can achieve the same results using a spring-toothed rake.Simply rake in one direction to begin with, before raking at right angles, making sure to pull out all the moss and other weeds which have taken root in your lawn during the winter months.
- Clear any established hedges of decaying debris, as this can harbour pest. Where possible (weather dependent) you should also look to give your hedges a light trim to tidy them up.
- Towards the end of the month prune any large-flowered or cluster-flowered roses, making sure to cut away any dead, diseased or damaged wood. It is recommended to prune back until a healthy green wood is reach, whilst you should also prune any thin, twiggy wood and crossing branches, to encourage a healthy growth of your roses.
- For those who are prone to growing their own fruit or vegetables, February is the perfect time to sow some seeds under cover. You should also use the month to net fruit and vegetable crops to keep birds at bay.Along with growing your own fruit and vegetables, you can become greener in the garden by composting more food peelings, tea bags and garden waste, by creating your own compost bin. One of the easiest ways to make your own compost bin is to use wooden pallets.
By carrying out these gardening tasks during the winter months, you can help keep your garden in top condition, ready for spring and summer – giving you the best chance of creating a wall of colour and encouraging nature.
Do you have any other essential winter gardening tasks you think we should be carrying out? Share them in the comment section below.