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Garden Maintenance: JANUARY

Now is a good time to do landscaping projects so that you can enjoy the benefits next spring. Now you can see your garden in its bare bones - what would you like to change? Add a compost bin, water butt, new shed, decking, gravel, raised flower bed? Doing these jobs now will give your garden time to recover to its full glory in the spring.

Top gardening jobs for January

1. Dig over soil on vegetable/flower beds if not already done - this will improve the soil.
2. Check the tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna you stored last year for rots or drying out.
3. Prune apple and pear trees.
4. Don't let the grass get too long - if it is dry give it a trim but don't cut it as short as you would in the summer.
5. Plant new trees and shrubs or move old ones if necessary.
6. Do any landscaping now while everything is already muddy!
7. Cut back ornamental vines, ivy, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy.
8. Pressure wash paths if they are slippery - but make sure the water doesn't freeze and become a slip hazard!

Trees, shrubs and hedges

Its best to prune evergreens in the spring when there is less chance of frost.
- Its still okay to plant, move (provided the ground is not frozen or water logged) and hard-prune/renovate deciduous trees and hedges.
- Its okay to plant roses but don't plant them where roses have been planted previously as this can lead to replant disease.
- Propagate ornamental shrubs such as Cornus, Salix, Forsythia, Weigela, Escallonia, Rosa, Ribes, Chaenomeles and Elaeagnus by taking hardwood cuttings. You can also take cuttings of deciduous (leaves fall off in winter) climbers such as Fallopia and Lonicera. Do a Google image search if you are not sure what they look like.
- Cut back ornamental vines, ivy, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy.
- Prune Wisteria by cutting back the side shoots to two or three buds being careful to avoid cutting off flower buds.

Lawn Care

You probably wont need to cut the grass but don't let it get too long.

TIP: You can repair hollows and bumps in the lawn during mild spells by cutting an 'H' shape in the turf, peeling back the grass, and either filling with top soil or scraping away the soil if you have a bump.

- Avoid walking on frosty grass; you will leave brown patches of dead grass.
- Mole activity will increase in January and February due to mating and building of nests.

Pond Care

- Remove leaves from the pond.
- Don't crack the ice but let a saucepan of hot water melt a hole instead.
- Check water levels regularly to make sure that you have no leaks.
- Pond specialists may be selling-off last years stock cheaper - now might be a good time to look for pond pumps etc.

Landscaping

- Have you drained or protected out door water pipes from freezing cold?
- Stop paths becoming slippery by removing algae - you may need to buy a herbicide.
- If the weather is dry you can still paint a wood preserver on fences, outdoor furniture and sheds etc. Now that you can see the garden in its bare bones, now is a good time to consider some landscaping changes such as installing garden lighting, repair broken fixtures (pergolas etc), laying stepping stones and soft landscaping - maybe simplifying your garden with some decorative gravel, removing trouble plants etc.

Flowers

- Clear weeds from borders ready for mulching in the spring.
- Plant lily bulbs.
- Check the tubers of plants such as Dahlia and Canna you have stored for signs of drying out. You need to check for signs of dampness causing rotting (remove any that are rotting) but too dry and they will be useless.
- Also, check any bulbs for signs of rot and remove dead bulbs before it spreads.

Greenhouse and house plants

- You don't need to water your house-plants so much over the winter.
- Cut back Hypoestes (polka dot plant), Pilea (aluminium plant) if they look leggy to encourage new growth.
- Bring Hippeastrum (amaryllis) bulbs into active growth by regularly watering and feeding them. They should flower in late winter/early spring.
- Clear any leaves and twigs from guttering to avoid blockages forming.

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