Joy Grey tells us February is the time to get your garden properly prepared for springtime.

February feels like a turning point in the garden. It’s still cold outside, but there are signs of spring’s imminent arrival. Bulbs slowly emerge, days begin to lengthen, and, with luck, temperatures begin to rise.

1. Tidying

Give everything in the garden a thorough tidy. Keep on top of leaves and other rubbish which gathers on lawns and in flower beds. Remember to leave the odd untidy corner for wildlife. 

2. Cleaning tools

Take the opportunity to check tools are sound, garden machinery is working and greenhouses and workspaces are clean. Sterilise all your pots, etc to eradicate pests and diseases.

3. Pruning and Cutting Back

Not all trees, climbers and shrubs are pruned in winter. But for many, the time to shape and prune is when they’re dormant. Apples, pears, many roses, type 2 and 3 Clematis, Sambucus, Buddleia, Wisteria and autumn fruiting raspberries are among the main candidates. Cut or prune back deciduous hedges before the birds start to nest and it becomes illegal. I like to leave many herbaceous plants standing over winter to give structure and interest and to provide habitat for wildlife. Gradually cut everything back preventing damage from pests and diseases.

4. Order seeds and plants

Order seeds and plants now, in time for spring.

5. Weeding

This is the time to work through borders, weeding everything including perennial roots as you go.

6. Planting

Plant bare rooted plants such as trees, hedging, roses and fruit canes. Bare rooted plants are not only easier to handle but also cheaper.

7. Repair

Repair fences, climbing plant structures, walls, plant supports etc. They’re easier to see and get to when plants are dormant. 

8. Don’t forget the lawn! 

Avoid walking on lawns if there is a hard frost or snow. Provide some extra air for grassroots by aerating  the lawn. You can do this manually with a fork or a specialised tool (which you can rent). Keep your lawn free from leaves and plant debris.

9. Mulch

Now is a good time to mulch your flower beds, as long as the soil is moist. Mulch acts as a barrier against weeds, provide nutrients, keeps the soil moist and insulates roots from the cold. Weed thoroughly beforehand and always leave a gap around the stem of plants. 

10. Planning

In winter the bare bones of the garden are visible making it the perfect time to draw up new plans. These could be a few notes and sketches on a scrap of paper or even commissioning a professional re-design using the skills of a garden designer.

The Grey Cottage, Goose Green, Gullane EH31 2AT
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