As I sat down to write this post, the post-box started rattling from the winds outside. I’ve got the heating on and I didn’t even open the curtains until mid-morning. Needless to say, winter firmly has its grip on the UK and the last thing you’re probably thinking about is spending time in the garden.
However, the winter can be a tough time for your green spaces – taking some simple steps to maintain and protect it can pay dividends in the spring and summer.
So here are a few tips which will help you to get your garden through the next few months, and whatever weather they throw at us. Whether it’s frost and snow, wind and rain or just a bit of cloud, following these tips should ensure you start the spring with a good-looking garden.
Fans of the colourful may choose to fill their gardens with flowers and plants which look spectacular during the summer – but have probably died-down at this point. There are plenty of jobs to do on your flowers in January though, including:
- Prune flowers like Wisteria and Roses. Cut them to just above the bud and remove any dead branches or old foliage
- Plant roses for the summer now. You could also try planting Clematis, some varieties of which will even flower in the winter
- If you’ve got grasses, cut them right back to an inch above the ground. Don’t worry, they will grow back very quickly!
If you’re green fingered enough to have your own vegetable patch, or maybe you’ve recently started an allotment, there’s a tonne of things you can be doing in January and February:
- If you’ve planted Leeks or Parsnips, they should be ready to harvest around about now!
- Get ready to plant your potatoes for the season – you’ll need to “sprout” them first using an egg box or tray, allowing them to grow for a few weeks in the sunshine
- On that subject, if you’re growing potatoes in an unheated greenhouse, make sure you protect them with blankets during particularly cold weather periods.
- You can also start growing potatoes if you’ve got a greenhouse or bright shed – Charlotte potatoes make a nice early crop for this job.
- If your vegetable garden isn’t up to much at this time of year, why not try growing some mushrooms indoors using a home kit?
Fruit / Trees
Most of us have pretty small gardens these days, but if you’re lucky enough to have a tree or two hanging around, you might have fruit on the go. Here’s what you need to know:
- Apple and Pear trees will need some pruning at this time of year, as will currants and berry bushes like blackcurrant and gooseberries.
- However, don’t prune your plums, cherries or apricots until the summer!
- If you’re looking to start a fruit crop, plant fruit bushes around about now, too.
Grass lawns and hedges
Tempting as it might be – especially if you have small children keen to play in the freshly fallen snow – try to avoid walking on your lawn when it gets covered in a thick layer of snow or frost. Trampling on grass in these cold conditions can do a lot of damage to the lawn underneath.
The same applies to hedges – try to brush the snow off them quickly, as the weight of a large snowfall could snap branches or damage delicate bushes.
Here’s a few other jobs you could be doing round the garden at this time of year:
- If you haven’t already got one, now could be the ideal time to get yourself a compost bin. The ideal filling for it is the needles from your Christmas tree – as well as all the vegetable peelings that this time of year tends to produce.
- Similarly, this wet time of year is an ideal time to let nature fill up your water butt – meaning you have a large container of free water, ready for the spring planting season!
- If you’re keen to spend time in the shed, or pottering around outdoors, why not organise your tools, fix up those old broken fences and give your garden furniture a coat of paint?
- If you want to attract birds, try hanging feeders and fat balls at this time of year.
- Now is also the ideal time to order your seeds and planters, ready to get in the ground in the coming weeks. Take a trip to your local garden centre, to see what they’ve got on offer – why not try something new this year?!
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog at http://www.themediocredad.com/.