While the weather may still be cold and bleak; if you look carefully you may be able to see the very first signs of spring in your garden. This makes it a good time to get some essential January gardening jobs done.
Out in your garden this month there will be buds on some of the trees and shrubs, and perhaps some emerging bulbs, too. Winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia, Daphne and Viburnum will be in bloom now, as well. Also, if you have winter flowering plants such as cyclamen, winter pansies and hellebore, these will be in their full splendour.
January provides a good opportunity to have a clear up of the garden and check for winter damage. Many January gardening jobs are best done when nature is largely dormant. When working in the garden in January, avoid walking on frozen lawns and flower beds as much as possible to prevent damage.
It’s worth getting out to clear up any leaves that have fallen since you were last in the garden. These leaves can harbour mould and disease if left on flower beds. Pay particular attention to the crowns of herbaceous perennials which may rot under damp leaves. You can also remove any perennial growth that has died back and apply a mulch of compost if you have not already done so.
Remember to deadhead winter pansies and other bedding plants regularly and remove any foliage affected by downy mildew. A January clear up will also ensure you uncover any bulbs or flowering plants that have been smothered. You may discover a clump of snowdrops or hellebores you had forgotten!
It always amazes me how weeds flourish even at the coldest time of the year! If the ground is not frozen, now is a good time to get some early weeding done as there is less chance of damaging new shoots or standing on your precious plants.
The windy conditions over winter may have caused damage to trees, shrubs, fences or other structures. If you have uprooted shrubs or small trees you may be able to lift them back into position and stake them. Cut them back if necessary, to reduce the weight, and make sure the roots are well covered with soil. If large trees have fallen or been partially uprooted, you may need to have a tree surgeon remove them or make them safe.
If you planted new trees or shrubs late last year, it’s a good idea to check them now to ensure stakes are secure. Also, check the roots are still nicely firmed in as they may have been loosened by high winds.
Now is also a good time to repair fences, and garden structures before new growth smothers them.
January is the time to give wisterias their second prune, taking side shoots back to 2 or 3 buds to ensure a profusion of flowers in the coming year. It’s also the perfect time to prune climbing roses and Virginia creeper. If you have hedges that still need cutting back, do this now before birds start to look for nesting sites in February.
You can plant new bare-root trees and shrubs in January if the ground is not frozen. Remember to water them in to help the soil wash around the roots and ensure they are nicely bedded in. Now is also the perfect time to establish new colonies of snowdrops and hellebores by buying them in flower.
January is also a great time to order seeds and seed potatoes ready for planting in February and March. You can sow flower and veg seeds under cover now to get a head start on the year ahead.
If you have fruit trees and bushes in your garden, now is the perfect time to feed them to ensure a bumper crop of fruit in the year ahead. Fruit trees and bushes benefit from a sprinkling of sulphate of potash around the roots of the plants. Check the instructions to ensure you use the right dose and gently hoe the product into the soil, taking care not to damage roots.
It’s a tough time of year for wildlife as the ground may be frozen and all the seeds and berries are long gone. So, one of your final January gardening jobs is to provide fresh drinking water and extra food for the birds and small mammals that may visit your garden. Remember to clear up any stale food and move your feeding station occasionally to prevent disease.
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