Gardening tips

Jobs this month are mostly about keeping things trim and tidy, and getting ready for the year ahead.


IN THE FLOWER GARDEN

• Lift and divide perennial plants now, to improve vigour and create new plants for your garden

• Divide hostas before they come in to leaf

• Pinch out the tips of fuchsia and sweet pea plants as they grow, to encourage bushy plants for summer.

•Divide primroses once they have flowered.

• Move evergreen trees and shrubs now.

• Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced, slow release fertiliser by lightly forking it into the soil surface. Roses , in particular, are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth.

• Tie in climbing and rambling roses.

• Prune penstemons now – cut back all the old shoots to the base, provided there is growth a the bottom of the plant. If there is no new shoots at the base, cut back just above the lowest set of leaves.

• Finish cutting back any dead foliage on perennials and ornamental grasses if you haven’t already done so. This will make way for new growth.

• Prune forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cut back into strong, young shoots.

• Tie in new honeysuckle and clematis stems. These plants will be putting on growth now, and you’ll need to train them along their supports.

• Continue to remove faded flowers from winter pansies to stop them setting seed. This will encourage flushes of new flowers throughout the spring.

• Apply a layer of mulch around your perennials, trees and shrubs before the hot weather arrives.

IN THE FRUIT GARDEN

• Protect fruit blossom from late frosts by covering them with fleece on cold nights.

• Mulch fruit trees with well-rotted manure or garden compost, taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk.

• Top dress patio fruit trees with fresh compost and a slow release fertiliser.

• Feed raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage good crops this season. Apply a slow-release fertiliser around the base.

IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN

• Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds.

• Dig a 5cm layer of compost, well-rotted manure or green waste into beds.

• Harvest asparagus spears when they are no more than 18cm tall.

• Support pea plants now. Use twiggy sticks around your plants.

• Thin carrot seedlings to achieve good-sized carrots, do this in the evening when fewer carrot flies are around.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR LAWN

• Sow lawn seed now on well-prepared soil and keep the soil moist while it germinates.

• For an instant lawn, lay new turf this month and keep it moist until it’s established.

• Repair any bare patches in your lawn.

• Apply a high-nitrogen fertiliser to your lawn, for a boost to the start of the season.

• Apply any specialist lawn weed killers to your lawn wherever moss and weeds are a problem.

• Brush away any worm casts on a dry day.

• Begin to mow your lawn regularly, as required. Lower your mower blades onwards the end of the month.

• Re-cut lawn edges to straighten them up.

• Install lawn edging to make future maintenance easier.

• Aerate compacted areas of lawn, by spiking it with a garden fork.