Simple gardening jobs for the start of the year

Simple gardening jobs for the start of the year

Your poor garden. It’s been left to bear the full brunt of the autumn and winter weather, without the love and attention you shower on it in the spring and summer. 

But even in the wintry months of January, February and into March, there are things you can do in the garden to keep it in good health and ready for action - and new life - in the spring. 

In fact, it’s a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and carry out some maintenance. Here are some ways to make the most of the winter months in your garden.

Clean up ready for spring

Have a clear up and prepare for spring. 

If you have a greenhouse, it may be looking a tad neglected at this time of year. But giving it a clean can make a big difference in the year ahead; by removing any dirt and grime, you’ll let in more light. 

Also, take the chance to clear paths, patios, decking and steps, which are likely to be covered in soggy leaves and algae. 

Get digging

If you haven’t dug over your veg patch or beds, now’s the perfect time for it. A good digging over will improve your soil’s structure and quality, ready for growing.

If nothing else, some vigorous digging will warm your bones on a cold and bright wintry day.

Avoid soil that is frozen or waterlogged. 

Protect outside taps

A frozen tap can increase the risk of a burst pipe. So if you haven’t already, cover it up from the cold to reduce this risk - you can buy cheap tap guards in DIY stores or online. Also lag (insulate) the pipe that leads to the tap, if it’s exposed. 

Help local birds

The winter months are tough for garden birds. But there are some things you can do to help them out and make your garden a safe, useful place for them to visit at this time of year.

That means providing food. Top up bird feeders and be sure to provide fatty food (such as fat balls) to help through the lean months.

Also, try and provide shelter in the form of nest boxes. You could even install one with a camera inside, so that, come spring you can watch birds raising their young.

 

Prune roses

Late winter (February or March) is often a good time for pruning roses, before the leaves emerge. Cut back the plant to about half to create an even, rounded shape.

Prune fruit trees

If you need to prune any deciduous shrubs or fruit trees, do so in the first months of the year before the sap starts to rise and the buds break. 

Start your veg

By mid-February, you’ll be getting into the first of the year’s veg-sowing. Hardy veg such as spring onions, beetroot, lettuce and spinach can be sown in trays indoors and then planted outside when they’re big enough to handle the cold. 

These can be followed in March by a huge range of veg including broad beans, onions and early brassicas, such as cabbage and cauliflower. Some early potato varieties can also be planted in late March.

Start weeding

Weeds don’t give gardeners much of a break and by March, they’ll be starting to shoot up. So, the earlier you start tackling these problem plants, the better. Use a hand fork and get all the roots out. 

Clean the mower

Don’t wait until your grass desperately needs its first mow of the year to check out the state of your mower. 

Instead, plan ahead to make sure it’s in tip-top condition ahead of that first spring cut. Be sure to clean off any old clippings. It may also need an oil change or to have its blade sharpened. Some avid gardeners would advise replacing the spark plug at the beginning of each mowing season as well.

You’re all set for spring

A lot of these jobs can feel like a chore in the winter months, but despite the chill, it’s a productive way to spend a brisk, bright winter day. And come spring, you’ll be so glad to step out into a well-maintained garden that is ready and primed for you to enjoy and make the most of in the warmer months of the year. Happy gardening!

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