After the expense, excitement and over-indulgence of Christmas, January is the ideal month to get outside and catch up on any gardening jobs that may have been pushed aside during the festive period. With Spring just around the corner, this month is all about preventing damage from harsh weather conditions so your garden’s in tiptop condition when the new season arrives.
1. If it’s warm enough to brave the elements, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative. Although brushes and rollers are adequate for most tasks, a sprayer is a good investment for more intricate designs such as woven panels. For our complete guide to protecting your garden furniture, click here.
2. Following heavy snowfall, gently brush snow off conifers and hedges to stop the weight forcing them apart. If you have the chance, pack the branches of tender trees and shrubs with straw and secure with fleece to protect them from the cold. Alternatively, thick dry mulches will also protect roots from freezing conditions. This said, be sure to remove plant protection as soon as the temperatures start to rise as humid, damp air is a haven for rot and mould.
3. Potted plants are more susceptible to frost damage, so make sure these are re-located indoors before the first frost arrives. Any garage, outbuilding or porch is perfectly adequate and you can leave the plants here for just one night or a few days at a time when frost is an issue. Water as normal and aim to group the plants together for a greater thermal mass so they remain at their optimum temperature.
4. On a warm, dry day when the soil isn’t too waterlogged, continue to dig over beds and borders, incorporating as much organic matter as possible. Forking in this way not only helps prepare the soil for next year, but it reduces pests by exposing them to hungry birds.
5. To improve drainage and reduce waterlogging, move patio plants so that they are slightly raised from direct contact with the ground. During particularly cold spells, move them to a sheltered position so they’re fully protected from the elements.
6. Unfortunately many weeds are able to withstand the cold weather, so once the soil is workable, hoe away before they leap into action in the spring.
7. Make sure to regularly rake your lawn so it remains free of leaves or debris which can cause moisture and encourage disease from worm activity. If practical, avoid using the lawn as much as possible when it's cold or frosty as grass plants can be easily damaged and will struggle to repair themselves until the Spring. If this isn't viable, opt for a couple of stepping stones to keep lawn usage at a minimum whilst providing access through your garden.
8. Finally, only mow the lawn when necessary and avoid mowing at all costs when the ground is very wet or a heavy frost is expected.