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January

The coldest month

In January, your garden could need protecting from frosts, gale-force winds and heavy rain. Check stakes, ties, fleeces and other supports for damage and consider moving plants to sunnier positions to maximize light. Don't forget to keep feeding the birds, food is scarce for them over winter. You can also start planning next year's vegetable plot.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch

  2. Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days

  3. Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already
  4. Repair and re-shape lawn edges
  5. Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out
  6. Prune apple and pear trees
  7. Start forcing rhubarb
  8. Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season
  9. Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds
  10. Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl

February

Spring is in sight

This month there are signs of the approaching spring, with bulbs appearing and wildlife waking up as light levels and temperatures increase. There's plenty to do indoors this month to prepare for the season ahead. Outdoors, as the garden comes to life again, it's time to prune shrubs and climbers, such as Wisteria as well as evergreen hedges.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Prepare vegetable seed beds, and sow some vegetables under cover
  2. Chit potato tubers
  3. Protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches
  4. Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off
  5. Prune winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering
  6. Divide bulbs such as snowdrops, and plant those that need planting 'in the green'
  7. Prune Wisteria
  8. Prune hardy evergreen hedges and renovate overgrown deciduous hedges
  9. Prune conservatory climbers
  10. Cut back deciduous grasses left uncut over the winter

March

Spring arrives

Spring usually arrives by mid-March and the frequent sunny days provide the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks. It's time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, cutting back winter shrubs and generally tidying up around the garden.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Protect new spring shoots from slugs

  2. Plant shallots, onion sets and early potatoes
  3. Plant summer-flowering bulbs
  4. Lift and divide overgrown clumps of perennials
  5. Top dress containers with fresh compost
  6. Mow the lawn on dry days (if needed)
  7. Cut back Cornus (dogwood) and Salix (willow) grown for colourful winter stems
  8. Weeds come back in to growth - deal with them before they get out of hand
  9. Start feeding fish and using the pond fountain; remove pond heaters
  10. Open the greenhouse or conservatory doors and vents on warm days

April

Sunshine and showers

Spring is finally in evidence as daffodils and flowering trees start to bloom. Expect the inevitable April showers this month but with sunny days too, when you can turn your attention to the lawn. It's an exciting month, with indoor-sown seeds well into growth, and it's also time to start sowing outdoors. Just watch out for frosts.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Keep weeds under control

  2. Protect fruit blossom from late frosts
  3. Tie in climbing and rambling roses
  4. Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds
  5. Start to feed citrus plants
  6. Increase the water given to houseplants
  7. Feed hungry shrubs and roses
  8. Sow new lawns or repair bare patches
  9. Prune fig trees
  10. Divide bamboos and waterlilies

May

Summer's on its way

As bulbs fade and herbaceous borders grow in leaps and bounds, it is now clear that summer is approaching. Sowing and planting out bedding can begin, depending on regional weather variations, and you can take softwood cuttings. It's also time to get back into the lawn mowing regime, as the lawn will be loving the warmer temperatures this month brings

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Watch out for late frosts. Protect tender plants
  2. Earth up potatoes, and promptly plant any still remaining
  3. Plant out summer bedding at the end of the month (except in cold areas)
  4. Collect rainwater and investigate ways to recycle water for irrigation
  5. Regularly hoe off weeds
  6. Open greenhouse vents and doors on warm days
  7. Mow lawns weekly
  8. Check for nesting birds before clipping hedges
  9. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs
  10. Watch out for viburnum beetle and lily beetle grub

June

Summer arrives

June 21 is the longest day of the year, and the extra light and warmth encourages the garden to put on an exuberant burst of growth. But this extra light and warmth also means weeds will sprout up from seemingly nowhere. Keep on top of them by hoeing regularly in dry conditions.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Hoe borders regularly to keep down weeds

  2. Be water-wise, especially in drought-affected areas
  3. Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
  4. Harvest lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes
  5. Position summer hanging baskets and containers outside
  6. Mow lawns at least once a week
  7. Plant out summer bedding
  8. Stake tall or floppy plants
  9. Prune many spring-flowering shrubs
  10. Shade greenhouses to keep them cool and prevent scorch

July

Summer is progressing

This is often one of the hottest months of the year and a great time to sit out and enjoy your garden. Keep plants looking good by regularly dead-heading, and you'll enjoy a longer display of blooms. Make sure you keep new plants well watered, using grey water where possible, and hoe off weeds, which thrive in the sunshine.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Check clematis for signs of clematis wilt

  2. Place conservatory plants outside now that it is warm

  3. Water tubs and new plants if dry, but be water-wise
  4. Deadhead bedding plants and repeat-flowering perennials, to ensure continuous flowering
  5. Pick courgettes before they become marrows
  6. Treat apple scab
  7. Clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from ponds, and keep them topped up
  8. Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs
  9. Give the lawn a quick-acting summer feed, especially if not given a spring feed
  10. Give woodwork a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry

August

Sultry late summer

August is usually one of the hottest months of the year - making watering essential. Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer. August is traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away. When you are at home, take the time to prune summer-flowering shrubs.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Prune Wisteria
  2. Don’t delay summer pruning restricted fruits
  3. Deadhead flowering plants regularly
  4. Watering! - particularly containers, and new plants, preferably with grey recycled water or stored rainwater
  5. Collect seed from favourite plants
  6. Harvest sweetcorn and other vegetables as they become ready
  7. Continue cutting out old fruited canes on raspberries
  8. Lift and pot up rooted strawberry runners
  9. Keep ponds and water features topped up
  10. Feed the soil with green manures

September

Late summer progresses into autumn

September is generally a cooler, gustier month than August and the days are noticeably shorter. While there's not as much to do in the ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you'll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest. It's also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer's colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Divide herbaceous perennials
  2. Pick autumn raspberries
  3. Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals
  4. Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them
  5. Net ponds before leaf fall gets underway
  6. Keep up with watering of new plants, using rain or grey water if possible
  7. Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering
  8. Clean out cold frames and greenhouses so that they are ready for use in the autumn
  9. Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting
  10. Plant spring flowering bulbs

October

The autumn chill sets in

Although we had some warmer days over September, the autumn is now definitely here for real, and it feels colder. It's a beautiful time of year, with the trees changing colour. Sometimes it may seem pointless raking, when the wind blows even more leaves onto the lawn, but just think of all the lovely leafmould you can make! It's also time to start preparing for early frosts.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Clear up fallen autumn leaves regularly

  2. Cut back perennials that have died down
  3. Divide herbaceous perennials and rhubarb crowns
  4. Move tender plants, including aquatic ones, into the greenhouse
  5. Plant out spring cabbages
  6. Harvest apples, pears, grapes and nuts
  7. Prune climbing roses
  8. Order seeds for next year
  9. Last chance to mow lawns and trim hedges in mild areas
  10. Renovate old lawns or create new grass areas by laying turf

November

Winter is on its way

Leaves are falling rapidly, and wind and rain are on the increase. Tender plants will need protecting from frost, gales and freezing rains. Move plants into the greenhouse, or into a sheltered spot, but if you can't, it is worth wrapping plants or pots in situ. Remember winter can be a tough time for birds in terms of water and food, so keep supplies well topped up.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Clear up fallen leaves - especially from lawns, ponds and beds
  2. Raise containers onto pot feet to prevent waterlogging
  3. Plant tulip bulbs for a spring display next year
  4. Prune roses to prevent wind-rock
  5. Plant out winter bedding
  6. Cover brassicas with netting if pigeons are a problem
  7. Insulate outdoor containers from frost - bubblewrap works well
  8. Stop winter moth damage to fruit trees using grease bands around the trunks
  9. Put out bird food to encourage winter birds into the garden
  10. Use a seasonal bonfire - where this is allowed - to dispose of excess debris unfit for composting

December

It's getting even colder

Frost, rainfall and winds are increasingly common, sunshine hours are much reduced and it can be bitter with a risk of snow. You may not want to be working outside at this time of year, but luckily there's not a lot to do. Keep an eye on winter protection, and if you have a greenhouse, make sure the heater works. It's time to think about pruning apples and pears too. See our video on how to do it to get the best possible harvest.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Check your winter protection structures are still securely in place
  2. Check that greenhouse heaters are working
  3. Prevent ponds and stand pipes from freezing
  4. Prune open-grown apples and pears (but not those trained against walls)
  5. Prune acers, birches and vines before Christmas to avoid bleeding
  6. Harvest leeks, parsnips, winter cabbage, sprouts and remaining root crops
  7. Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be planted and transplanted
  8. Take hardwood cuttings
  9. Keep mice away from stored produce
  10. Reduce watering of houseplants