The comforting thing about the march of the seasons in a garden is the inevitability of the cycles. It won’t be long before snowdrops make their first welcome appearance heralding spring and the whole show can start again – January is an optimistic month. Although the days are cold and the nights long, there is always something to do in the garden.
After the New Year celebrations are over, work off the excesses of the festive period by preparing borders and vegetable gardens, digging them over ready for planting in the spring. This is a very productive way of losing a few pounds and building up your muscles again. Provided the ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged, you can work the ground at any time of year.
Get ahead of the crowd and take your lawnmower in for a service this month. If you leave it until spring, lawn repair shops will take much longer and generally charge more because they are so busy. Keep off icy grass but on milder days you can improve the drainage by pushing a garden fork well into the ground and wiggling it about a bit to open up the holes. Do this at about 15 cm intervals all over a waterlogged area of lawn and then spread sharp sand or horticultural sand (not builders’ sand) over the whole area, working it into the holes you’ve created with a stiff brush. If you have a large lawn you can hire mechanical spikers to make the work easier. It’s well worth taking the time and trouble to do this job over the winter for the overall health of your grass.
Much as we want to encourage worms to work the soil in our gardens, worm casts can look unsightly and so should be brushed off the winter lawn regularly. If left they can be trodden into the surface, encouraging weed seeds to grow.