If you’ve spent all that money on your garden redesign, or employed a designer to create the perfect space for you and your family, then you will want your garden to look great. Tending an outdoor space can be a year around job, and the important tasks can often go forgotten if you don’t have a schedule to run by. On top of that, having a schedule will make those big, daunting jobs that you put off weekend after weekend, seem smaller and easily manageable.

Use our month by month garden calendar to decide which jobs you should tackle when, and turn your garden into a place that you can really enjoy all year round.

January

  • Start putting food and water in your garden for hungry and thirsty birds.
  • Recycle cut trees by shredding them for mulch or compost.
  • Brush snow from evergreens and conifers to stop the branches from bowing, breaking or splaying out under the sheer weight.
  • Continue with planting bare-root trees, shrubs and roses, but only if the ground and soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged.
  • After plenty of rain, mulch beds and borders with leaf mould, manure, compost or shredded bark. A layer of around five to 10cm is ideal.
  • Repair and stain or paint fences, pergolas and wooden furniture if weather conditions permit.
  • If wet weather conditions have made ornamental grasses and other perennials fall flat, start cutting these back to give them a fresh start.
  • Check protective fleece and straw is covering still-tender plants such as tree ferns.
  • Feed new plantings in late January with slow-release fertiliser such as Blood, Fish and Bone, and water in. Leave the application of faster-acting organic fertilisers such as Growmore until the beginning of March.
  • Scrub slippery garden decking and paving with hot soapy water. Algon Organic Path and Patio Cleaner is useful for dirtier surfaces.
  • Repair garden lawn edges.
  • Dead-head winter bedding for bigger and bushier displays.
  • To stop ponds and bird baths freezing over, leave a tennis ball to bob on top of the water.
  • Ventilate greenhouses and conservatories on hot sunny days.
  • Wash the glass of the greenhouse to let in more light.
  • Plan vegetable rotations and new planting schemes for spring.
Feed-birds-in-your-garden-during-the-winter-months

Be sure to put out feed for birds throughout the winter months

February

  • Check that ponds and bird-baths haven’t frozen over.
  • Trim overgrown deciduous garden hedges if you didn’t do so last autumn; they can all be cut back fairly hard now.
  • Make sure the frosts haven’t lifted newly planted trees and shrubs – re-firm around them lightly using your hands or heels if necessary.
  • Continue planting bare-root trees and shrubs when the ground is neither frozen nor waterlogged.
  • Plant ‘in-the-green’ snowdrops (snowdrops with leaves) if the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.
  • Plant Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, raspberries and blackberry canes if weather conditions permit.
  • Cut back deciduous grasses to 15-20cm before new shoots emerge.
  • Continue deadheading winter bedding plants for bushier displays.
  • Prepare seed beds for spring vegetable sowings and cover with
    a plastic tarpaulin or cardboard so the soil doesn’t get waterlogged.
  • Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries to ground level and feed with sulphate
    of potash. Don’t prune summer-flowering varieties – tie in the shoots to their supports, and feed.

March

  • Last chance to plant bare-root trees, shrubs and roses until November.
  • Remove weeds, then mulch beds and borders with shredded bark or compost to help stop them returning.
  • Protect young perennials, such as hostas, with organic slug pellets.
  • Deadhead early spring bulbs – but don’t chop back the leaves for at least six weeks after flowering.
  • Start mowing your lawn each week if the grass isn’t wet. If you can, set your mower’s blade height as high as possible for the first four to five weeks.
  • Hard-prune bush roses back to 30cm. Cut back to an outward-facing bud.
  • Seed heads of perennials and place ‘grow-through’ supports in position.
  • Plant summer-flowering lily bulbs in a hole three to four times their height.
  • Sow hardy annuals to fill gaps in immature beds and borders.
  • Replace the compost in container plants and top-dress with slow-release fertiliser.
  • Plant herbs in windowsill trays.
  • Plant early potatoes, onion sets and asparagus, and when the weather is warmer sow onions, parsnips and the first carrots, turnips, beetroots and salad leaves of the season under cloches.
  • Sow celery, courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers on the windowsill or greenhouse for planting out once all danger of frost has passed.
Sow-courgette-seeds-in-march

Sow celery, courgettes, tomatoes and cucumbers on the windowsill or greenhouse for planting out once all danger of frost has passed

April

  • Start mowing at least once a week.
  • Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
  • Feed and water houseplants more often now they’re actively growing.
  • Split overgrown bamboo – you’ll need a sharp spade and an old saw.
  • Stake tall perennials such as delphiniums and sunflowers with ‘grow through’ supports.
  • Create new container displays and water well in dry spells.
  • Sow half-hardy bedding plants in seed trays or cell trays undercover. If there’s space, pot plug plants into larger pots – cheaper than buying bigger pot plants in a month’s time.
  • Plant up summer baskets and grow undercover before positioning in late May.
  • Clear out ponds: take out planting baskets and fish (keep in buckets of old pond water), bail out the water, remove sludge and refill. Rainwater is best, but let tap water stand for a week before putting fish back in.
  • Plant new pond plants using special pond baskets from garden centres.
  • Last chance to create new lawns using turf without a sprinkler.
  • Deadhead spring-flowering bulbs.
  • ‘Earth up’ potatoes when shoots are 15cm tall.
  • Sow rocket, cut-and-come-again salads, summer lettuce, beetroot and carrots in shallow drills (trenches) outside.
  • Sow winter brassicas outside. Thin and space seedlings to the correct distance when three leaves have grown.
  • Protect tender vegetables from late frosts – keep horticultural fleece on standby.
  • Watch out for early pests and diseases – hit them hard now to avoid problems later on.
  • Sow tomatoes, runner beans, basil, green pepper, marrow, courgettes and sweetcorn in individual modules undercover for planting after the frost.
  • Use fine Environmesh to protect young carrots from carrot root fly.

May

  • If dry, soak new plantings/containers.
  • Hoe around plants in beds and borders on dry days to keep weeds down and stop self-seeding.
  • Mow lawns once a week from now until autumn and also trim the edges.
  • Cut back untidy tender shrubs and sub-shrubs like penstemon, artemisia and fuchsia now the frost has passed.
  • Lightly trim conifer and evergreen hedges.
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowering (visit rhs.org.uk for advice).
  • Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month/early June.
  • Last chance to sow or lay new lawns until autumn without using sprinklers.
  • Pick off scarlet lily beetle from your lilies; their larvae rapidly defoliate plants.
  • Feed spring bulbs with Growmore or blood, fish and bone.
  • Re-pot pot-bound container plants in pots 7-10cm bigger than the current ones.
  • Tie in long climber shoots to their supports with soft string.
  • Watch for vine weevil in container plantings – irregular-shaped notches to leaf edges are tell-tale signs. The young grubs in the soil eat roots, and fast. Use natural nematodes to control them.
  • Plant out tender courgettes and aubergines at the end of the month.
  • Cover soft fruit bushes with netting.
  • Put straw around/under strawberries.
  • Earth up potatoes.

June

  • Move houseplants into the garden.
  • Dead-head perennials and roses.
  • Weed regularly. Spread 4-5cm of compost around plants after weeding and watering beds and borders.
  • Remove early summer flower bedding for bigger and better displays later on.
  • Prune out the fruited canes of summer raspberries to ground level.
  • Trim box and yew topiary.
  • Liquid-feed tubs and baskets every two weeks if you haven’t already mixed in controlled-release fertiliser.
  • Continue to water container plantings, bedding plants and veggies often.
  • Watch for irregular-shaped notches to leaf edges (vine weevil); young grubs in the compost eat roots fast, so water on natural nematodes such as Nemasys to control them.
  • Cover soft fruit bushes with netting to prevent birds eating the young fruit.
  • Put straw around and under strawberries to protect them, and remove any long runners (the stems which creep along the soil), to avoid a poor crop. Continue to feed tomatoes, peppers and aubergines with a high-potash feed such as Tomorite every two weeks.
  • Harvest onions when the leaves turn yellow – lift, then leave on the soil for
    a week or so in warm weather to let the tops dry out completely.

Cover soft fruit bushes with netting to prevent birds eating the young fruit

July

  • Continue vigilant weed control.
  • Feed seasonal patio displays and baskets weekly with liquid tomato fertiliser.
  • Dead-head bedding plants to encourage more flowers.
  • Cut back delphiniums and geraniums after the first flowers to encourage a second flowering, then feed with Blood, Fish and Bone.
  • Tie in vigorous climbers firmly to their supports.
  • Water plants when needed (ideally early in the morning). Bedding plants, leafy vegetables, seedlings and new plantings are most prone to drying out.
  • Thin out hardy annuals to the recommended spacing on the seed packet.
  • Check susceptible plants – such as roses – for blackspot, mildew and rust, which can be rife right now.
  • Divide (and buy new) bearded irises that have finished flowering.
  • Use a rake to thin out any overgrown oxygenating plants and algae from ponds.
  • Sow autumn and winter salads.
  • Stop cordon tomatoes when they have made four or five trusses of fruit by pinching out the tip.
  • Continue harvesting shallots and garlic planted last year.
  • Pick courgettes before they become big marrows.
  • Paint wooden sheds, fences, arches and arbours while the weather is dry.
  • Top up ponds in hot weather, ideally with water-butt water.
  • Continue checking for scarlet lily beetle.
  • Clip fast-growing Leyland cypress hedges.
  • If it’s dry, stop mowing the lawn, or, if possible, raise the height of cut. Brown patches in hot spells are inevitable but the lawn will quickly recover, so there’s no need to water.

August

  • Water in dry spells, from a water butt or by re-using lightly used bathwater.
  • Summer-prune wisteria: tie in side shoots to fill gaps or replace older branches, then cut back the remaining shoots to five or six buds.
  • Top up ponds, water features and birdbaths in hot weather.
  • Tie in tall late-summer perennials to stop them flopping over.
  • Tidy and cut back any early- summer perennials that have finished flowering and collapsed.
  • Give deciduous hedges their last trim of the year.
  • Mow the lawn at least once a week. Raise the blades if the weather is hot and dry to stop the sward turning brown.
  • Lightly trim lavender and rosemary after flowering – gently shear the new soft growth, but don’t cut into the older brown wood.
  • Push straw or old tiles under ripening squash and pumpkins to stop rotting on the soil surface.
  • Trim off foliage from strawberries once they’ve finished fruiting.
  • In the middle of the month stop outdoor tomatoes by pinching out the uppermost terminal shoot.
  • Lift the last second earlies and first maincrop of potatoes towards the end of the month.
  • Pick sweetcorn, tomatoes, peas, beans, marrows, pumpkins, artichokes and glasshouse crops such as chillies and aubergines.
  • Sow spring cabbage, winter spinach and lettuce towards the month end.

Pick pumpkins this month as well as tomatoes, artichokes and glasshouse crops such as chillies and aubergines

September

  • Start planting new container-grown trees, shrubs, perennials and roses.
  • Re-plant overgrown perennials that haven’t flowered well in fist-sized
    clumps with as many roots as possible.
  • Continue to feed summer bedding tubs and baskets with tomato fertiliser every two weeks.
  • Move evergreen shrubs that are in the wrong place near the end of the month.
  • Net ponds to keep out decomposing autumn leaves that are lethal to fish.
  • Bring houseplants moved outside for summer back in before the early frosts.
  • Plant spring bulbs, daffodils and crocuses in beds, borders and containers or naturalise them in the lawn.
  • Water younger camellias and rhododendrons in dry spells.
  • Stake tall late-flowering perennials that are flopping, such as Michaelmas daisies and perennial sunflowers.
  • Lift maincrop potatoes, rest for three to four hours for the skins to harden and store in paper bags in a dark place.
  • Pick plums and apples if they come away easily from the tree.
  • Plant garlic. Use specially bred bulbs from garden centres for best results.
  • Plant next year’s summer strawberries.
  • Cut back peas and beans to ground level leaving the roots behind – when decomposing, these will release nitrogen back into the soil for future crops.

October

  • Remove drip trays and raise terracotta patio pots with bricks or special pot feet (from garden centres) so they don’t sit in water over winter and crack when it freezes.
  • Plant bare-root trees, shrubs and roses.
  • Clear up fallen leaves into black bin bags or create a separate pile next to the compost heap to make leaf mould ready for next October’s soil conditioning.
  • Cut back and compost the stems of spent summer perennials.
  • Continue to create new lawns from turf until the end of the month.
  • Check tree ties and climber supports are secure before winter winds hit.
  • Tidy your ponds and remove the pumps for winter if you don’t need them to keep fish.
  • Lift and split poor flowering or congested perennials into large fist-sized clumps. Replant to the same depth as before, at least a trowel’s length apart.
  • Check greenhouse or conservatory heaters are working properly.
  • Replace frosted summer bedding with winter and spring displays.
  • Continue planting spring bulbs, but leave tulips until next month.
  • Stop feeding all plants outside until March.
  • Clear any spent vegetable crops and compost them.

Continue planting spring bulbs, but leave tulips until next month

November

  • Clear up fallen leaves, especially those in and around lawns and ponds.
  • Start planting tulips.
  • Continue dividing congested perennials: dig up, split into fist-sized clumps, and replant to the same depth with as much root as possible.
  • Plant bare-root trees, shrubs and roses. Trees over one metre will need staking for support, especially in exposed locations.
  • Finish planting tubs and baskets with evergreen perennials, ornamental grasses, winter pansies and polyanthus.
  • Use special pot feet or bricks to raise containers off the ground for drainage, and to prevent cracking in severe frosts.
  • Cover wooden garden furniture to protect it from winter weather.
  • Prune back long shoots on tall bush roses by a third to stop strong winds rocking them.
  • Clean out bird boxes and put out fresh water and food.
  • Take 25cm long hardwood cuttings of red and white currants, blackcurrants and gooseberries.
  • It’s the last chance to create new lawns from turf; choose a dry day when the soil’s not frozen or waterlogged.
  • Check houseplants aren’t drying out from central heating. Move them to a bright but cooler spot and keep the compost moist.
  • Dig over the veggie patch; leave soil in large clumps and let the weather break it down into a crumbly finish.

December

  • Move houseplants away from hot radiators to a bright, but cooler spot.
  • Water your plants wisely. Although plants in containers do need less water in winter, be careful not to neglect them.
  • plant new bare-root trees, roses and hedging plants. Available from October to early March, these establish readily, and there’s a wide choice available.
  • fill gaps in beds and borders as they will be more obvious Evergreens are useful here. Although most don’t set the pulse racing, they are important structural plants, which anchor a composition.
  • To help waterlogged lawns, use a fork to spike the surface 10cm into the ground every 20-25cm, or use a wheeled aerator.
  • Put out food and water for birds.
  • Clip lawn edges and clear spent stems from perennials.
  • Install outdoor lighting for another dimension after dark. Spotlights are the most versatile fittings and can be positioned at different angles for varying effects.
  • Gather fallen leaves into a bag, tie it at the top, puncture a few evenly spaced holes in the sides and hide. This time next year you’ll have lovely compost, ready to use.
  • Protect tender palms and tree ferns. Stuff a few handfuls of straw into the crown, tie up the leaves or fronds, and then wrap the whole plant in horticultural fleece, tying it off securely at the bottom. Don’t use plastic sheeting or bubble wrap – on warm days your plants will sweat and rot.
  • insulate container plants. Cover each pot with bubble wrap, hessian sacking or an old blanket to keep them warm – then move them close to the house or another sheltered Bricks or ‘pot feet’ under each container will stop compost getting waterlogged.

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