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Maintenance Jobs for the January Garden


By the end of January, the beginnings of a new gardening year, full of promise, are starting to emerge. There are glimmers of snowdrops, brave yellow aconites, primroses and violets to be seen. The days are getting longer, albeit slowly, so, with a little more light, you can get a good workout in the garden and perhaps take the opportunity to burn off a few excess calories!

Even if the ground is frozen, spreading around organic matter, such as well rotted manure, compost or leaf mould, can still be done over frozen soil. It is less messy and will save you time later in the year.

compost heap

Keep off the lawn if it’s frozen, but on a good day improve the drainage by using a fork, pushed into the ground to about 15cm. For larger areas you can hire mechanical spikers for aerating the grass. Immediately afterwards, spread in horticultural sand for increased drainage. Worms are quite active in lawns at this time of year, which is a benefit, but make sure you brush off the casts, which not only look a bit unsightly but will encourage weed seeds to grow.

a gardener sticking a fork into the ground

Now is a great time to plant bare-rooted shrubs, hedging plants, trees and roses as they offer much better value than pot-grown varieties. If possible, try and avoid planting if the ground is frozen, or immediately after very heavy rain, as the soil can compact easily when very wet, making it difficult for the roots to establish. If you can’t plant them immediately, ‘heel’ them in a corner until you’re ready. The important thing is to make sure the roots are well covered with soil to prevent drying out or frost getting to them.

a person holding a plant with bare roots

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