From the garden: Neil’s maintenance tips for January

The New Year signifies fresh starts and new beginnings, so you should have already made a head-start on your spring planting by ensuring this was completed between September and December. As a result of being pre-prepared, this month you should be focusing on carrying out maintenance to ensure your grounds or garden are ready for the warmer weather to arrive, as well as ordering certain plants ready to be planted next season.


british garden in summer with a large greenhouse

For example, January is the perfect time to order any root ball stock such as hedging plants, large shrubs, and fruit trees, as ordering root ball stock can save you money and time. Also, don’t forget to check your pots, troughs, and baskets at this time of year as they tend to get a battering due to the high winds and frosty conditions.


With regular deadheading and the removal of dead leaves, you should be able to keep your display looking tiptop. For any failing plants, however, these should be removed to avoid pest and diseases spreading, and you can just pop to the garden centre to find replacements to inject some colour into your displays. If you’re time starved and would like great looking all year displays, phs would be glad to help. Just visit our newly designed website, and we’ll take care of your gardening needs!


Although things will be quiet in your garden due to the winter now being in full swing, because of the cold, windy, and icy weather conditions, it’s also important that you continue to protect your existing plants from the elements to keep them healthy and thriving. Wrap them in protective coverings (such as bubble wrap or fleece), or consider moving them into your greenhouse until the weather improves.


To get you back in the swing of things after the hustle and bustle of the festive period, Neil Gallagher from our grounds maintenance division gives us his run down on the things you’ll need to stay on top of in the garden this month…


Christmas trees


The festive season is over, and we have now entered a new year. This means that you’re probably still feeling the effects of the festivities, and wondering what to with that 7ft Fir Christmas tree that’s been chucked in the garden. But, if you’re one of the eight million people in the UK who bought a real tree, the simplest way to dispose of your Christmas tree is to recycle it.


Your green waste bin should be relatively empty at this time of year, so just chop your tree up into small pieces with a garden saw or secateurs.  It’s also worth checking out your local garden centres, as some are happy to take old trees and will turn them into wood chippings for use in your own garden.


Start preparing your soil for spring

gardener digging soft soil and preparing for planting flowers


 If you have empty flowerbeds and borders in your garden, January is the perfect time to prepare them for future planting. To ensure this, you should be digging over the soil to remove any rouge weeds and large stones, as well as improve its drainage by adding grit for those boggy areas. Just try to avoid disturbing plant roots which digging over. This is especially vital because if your soil is soggy, your plants won’t be able to breath or properly absorb the nutrients it needs.


Clear away fallen leaves


Just because it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean you should stop take a break from clearing your paths and patios of debris! As we advised last month, you should continue to sweep leaves away from these areas, as well as from underneath borders and hedges, as they can provide shelter for slugs and other pests who want to eat your plants!


Leaves should also be removed from the gutters of greenhouses, as they could block their ventilation. After sweeping up fallen leaves from your grounds, they’ll need to be placed in a leaf bin or composter, as this will be warm enough to ensure the leaves break down. 


gardening pruning a pink flower

Cut back old steams, leaves and foliage


 There are a number of plants that can be pruned in January because they’re dormant; some examples include rose bushes, climbing roses and wisterias. To prune rose brushes, you should remove any dead branches and cut the flower back to just above the bud. With wisterias, however, you should cut back the new growth so that there are only one or two buds left on each tendril.


On the other end of the scale, plants you should avoid pruning this month are bushes such as buddleia and hydrangeas. If these are pruned when it’s too cold, you won’t get the most from the new growth.


Bird food


 Garden birds, in particular, benefit from feeding all-year-round, but winter is the time to provide foodstuffs with a high fat content to help keep them warm. Feed regularly so that birds will not waste vital energy visiting your garden when there is no food. Things you can do to help include:


  • Creating your own fat blocks by melting suet into moulds such as coconut shells or logs
  • Sparrows, finches, and nuthatches will enjoy prising the seeds out of sunflower heads
  • Consider planting berrying and fruiting trees, and shrubs such as Malus and Cotoneaster


Don’t forget now that you know what things to do in the garden in January, you can ensure that your plants stay healthy and thriving while we see through the rest of the winter, and that your gardens or grounds are fully prepared for spring to arrive and inject some fresh colour into your beds and borders!