Jobs in the garden
Get your vegetable beds ready by removing all the weeds, roots and all, before the weather warms up and then digging in compost. You can improve the soil in the rest of your garden by removing all the weeds and spreading manure and compost over beds, then forking it into the ground.
Sprinkle slow release fertiliser around the base of flowering shrubs and roses and top dress fruit bushes and trees with continuous release, potassium-rich fertiliser to feed for the season. Also, mulch your fruit trees with manure or compost but be careful not to mound the mulch around the trunk.
Build raised beds before the growing season starts – raised beds allow you to make an early start as the soil warms up more quickly and will also drain better. These and vegetable tables are great alternatives if you have clay soil or limited space.
Prune apple and pear trees whilst they are still dormant – this will be your last chance to do so before next winter.
Cut back wisteria – three buds from base will encourage flower growth and trim back ivy and other climbers before birds start nesting.
Prune hardy evergreen hedges and deciduous hedges, again before the birds start nesting.
Prune summer flowering clematis towards the end of February before the spring growth begins. Cut back shrubs such as cornus and salix, grown for their colourful winter stems down to their bases and lightly prune winter flowering shrubs once their displays have finished.
Cut back ornamental grasses before fresh shoots appear – cut them to a few centimetres above the ground.
Shred or chop your woody offcuts before adding them to your compost bin – this will speed up decomposition and provide you with your own compost much quicker.
Fruit and Vegetable Maintenance
Prepare your outdoor vegetable seed beds and start sowing some seeds but do keep them out of the frost, either in your greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
Prune autumn fruiting raspberry canes to the ground to stimulate new canes that will produce fruit in the autumn.
Prune blackcurrant bushes, redcurrants and gooseberries to maintain a productive shape.
Cover strawberries with cloches to encourage an earlier crop.
Protect the blossom of outdoor soft fruit trees, such as peach trees, with fleece if frost is in the forecast.
Chit potato tubers and buy onion sets ready for planting in the spring.
Sow sweet peas in deep pots and other annual flowering plants – keep them out of the frost either in a greenhouse or on a bright windowsill.
Put up bird boxes ready for the nesting season and keep plenty of food available as the next couple of months can still be very cold.