General Jobs for January

1. When the weather allows, carry on clearing paths of moss and leaves.

2. After a heavy snowfall, gently brush snow off conifers and hedges to stop the weight forcing them apart. If you have a chance, pack the branches of tender trees and shrubs with straw and secure with fleece to protect them from the cold; thick dry mulches will also protect roots from freezing conditions.

3. If you haven't already done this, lay old carpeting or something similar over cold frames to protect them and check the insulation in greenhouses and that heaters are working properly.

4. Clean and repair your garden tools, pots and trays.

5. Book the lawn mower in for a service, and sharpen the blades.

6. Check garden furniture for any rot.

7. Take care not to let leaves accumulate around alpines - they will die if left damp for long. Cover bare patches around clumps with gritty compost to encourage regrowth.

8. Check that any seeds you intend to sow are in date and stored in a cool, dry, mouse-free container.

9. Place a seed order, as it will soon be time to start sowing onions, cabbages, parsnips, leeks, sweet peas and calendula.  



• Clear weeds from borders ready for mulching in the spring.

• Plant lily bulbs in pots, so they will flower in the summer.

• Check the tubers of plants such as Dahlia and Canna you have stored for signs of drying out.

• You will also need to check any bulbs for signs of rot caused by dampness, also bear in mind that if they are dry they will be useless.



• Plant new fruit bushes when the ground is not too wet or frozen

• Check and loosen tree ties, replace any that are broken

• Check stakes on fruit trees for being loose or broken



• Dig over vacant plots and leave the ground rough for frost to break down

• Check stored vegetables and throw out any that are rotting

• Towards the end of the month consider putting up plastic cloches to warm the soil and give early salad crops

• Store seed potatoes in a dark place



• Keep off in frosty weather

• If puddles stay on the lawn, spike with a garden fork or aerator to aid drainage


Greenhouses, Sheds and Houseplants

• Start to heat Greenhouses, which have Peaches and Vines in them

• Prune Vines now before sap rises

• Check heating is still running efficiently

• Ventilate cold houses on mild days

• Check plants regularly for pests and disease i.e., moulds and fungus

• If the weather is dry you can still paint a wood preserver on fences, outdoor furniture and sheds etc. When it is warm enough, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative.

• You don't need to water your house-plants too much over the winter.

• Cut back Hypoestes (polka dot plant), Pilea (aluminium plant) if they look leggy to encourage new growth.

• Clear any leaves and twigs from guttering to avoid blockages forming.


Trees, Shrubs, climbers and hedges

 • Plant/move (provided the ground is not frozen or water logged) and hard-prune/renovate deciduous trees and hedges.

• It’s okay to plant roses but don't plant them where roses have been planted previously as this can lead to replant disease.

• Propagate ornamental shrubs such as Cornus, Salix, Forsythia, Weigela, Escallonia, Rosa, Ribes, Chaenomeles and Elaeagnus by taking hardwood cuttings. You can also take cuttings of deciduous (leaves fall off in winter) climbers such as Fallopia and Lonicera.

• Cut back ornamental vines, ivy, Virginia creeper and Boston ivy. • Prune Wisteria by cutting back the side shoots to two or three buds being careful to avoid cutting off flower buds.

• Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level.

• Prune apple and pear trees.


Soil, mulching and weed control

  • Weeds - sadly many will survive the cold weather so once the soil is workable, hoe away before they leap into action in the spring.

• When soil conditions allow, continue to dig over beds and borders, incorporating as much organic matter as you can. Forking over not only helps prepare the soil for next year, it helps reduce pests by exposing them to hungry birds.


Pond Care

• Remove leaves from the pond.

• Keep an area of the pond free of ice to help fish to breathe. Don't crack the ice but let a saucepan of hot water melt a hole instead.

• Check water levels regularly to make sure that you have no leaks.

• Pond specialists may be selling-off last years stock cheaper - now might be a good time to look for pond pumps etc.


Plants which are at their best in January

Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop)

Sarcococca (Christmas Box)

Hamamelis vars (Witch Hazel)

Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (Contorted Hazel)

Crocus Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose)

Lonicera x Fragrantissima (Winter flowering Honeysuckle)

Garrya eliptica 'James Roof' (Silktassel Bush)

Ilex aquifolium vars (Holly)

Viburnum tinus vars


TOP TIP: Using rock salt to keep paths free of ice can scorch leaves and roots of plants, so apply with care and keep to a minimum.