Gardens require little help during the winter months, and it is often a great time to let it run a little wild, providing for any wildlife looking for shelter in the colder months. But spring will arrive before you know it, and you will be swept up in the growing and nurturing of your garden as it comes back to life.
Getting your garden in order earlier in the year helps to be prepared and makes all the garden tasks for the spring a little less hectic, and it’s a great opportunity to get into your mens or ladies country clothing and spend some time outdoors.
Clear Flowerbeds and Borders
This time of year is a good time to tidy up the garden, removing leaves and other debris from your flowerbeds, lawns and ponds. Cut back on the old growth of deciduous plants. If you do want to keep your garden more wildlife friendly this tidy up can be left until early spring. Remember to compost or recycle your green waste.
Clean Your Greenhouse
Give your greenhouse a good wash before spring arrives. Before long, it will be home to seedlings, so sweep out any plant debris on the floor and other surfaces and give the windows a clean. Use a natural disinfectant to get rid of any pests and diseases that could be hiding in the nooks and crannies of the greenhouse. This is also a good time to clean out any unused pots and seed trays too, and be sure to keep the greenhouse ventilated so it dries thoroughly.
Get Rid of Garden Pests
Hunting down and removing any hibernating pests at this time of year can save you trouble later on. Take a closer look at perennial plants and you may find slugs, snails and aphids sheltering for the winter. If you have not yet cleared last year’s pots of summer bedding; do this and look out for white vine weevil larvae which can live in the compost. Destroy any you find, and be prepared to treat any plants this year for vine weevils.
Fix Fences and Gates
Although there is still a bit of a chill in the air, this is the ideal time to get any annoying jobs out of the way so you are not doing it in summer when there are more important tasks. Any broken fences, gates, trellises, tools or structures are best fixed now. Treat wooden garden structures with a wood preservative when the weather is dry.
Install Water Butts
If you don’t have any water butts in your garden, now is the time to install one or two – or more if you have space - so they can collect seasonal rainfall. This not only helps the environment but the rainwater is great for watering your plants in the hot summer days.
Create a Compost Area
If you don’t have a compost bin or area yet, this time of year is the best time to do it. You can buy a ready-made compost bin, or build an area yourself with some spare bits of wood. A compost bin is great for recycling garden waste and you can use it when it is fully broken down as a rich fertiliser for your plants throughout the year. Make sure the compost has a good mix of grass clippings, vegetable peelings, paper and wood prunings as well as other plant debris. To help it along, turn it with a garden fork once a month.
Order Flowering Bulbs and Seeds
This is a great task to do when the weather doesn’t allow you into the garden. Order summer flowering bulbs and seeds such as lilies or gladiolus, which can be planted in early spring. Browse gardening catalogues or online to get inspiration for how you want your garden to look in the spring.
Sow Seeds that Need Longer Seasons
In February, you can start to sow seeds of plants which require a longer growing season such as aubergines, peppers, geraniums and more. This will need to start off in a heated area to ensure a good growth, but as soon as the weather warms up, you can transfer them to your garden.
Move Deciduous Shrubbery
If you have any deciduous shrubs you want to move, now is the time to do so while it is dormant. Be sure to give a wide range for the roots when digging it up, and get as much of the roots as possible. When planting in the new position, place the shrubs at the same level as they were previously and remember to water them well afterwards.
Clean Gardening Tools
Give your gardening tools and clean and sharpen before they are in regular use. Caring for your garden tools not only helps to preserve them for longer, it also saves you money, and can prevent a spread of disease. Dirty secateurs may introduce fungi or bacteria to freshly pruned wounds. Sharpening tools improve their performance and give cleaner cuts.