Expert Advice: Seven Garden Tasks for February

If you're itching to get back out into the garden then here are a list of top jobs to do this month from garden designer Karolyn Mowll of Turning Leaf Garden Designs...

Think floral

February-daffodils

'Tubs and hanging baskets that were planted with flowers, for example pansies, probably need an overhaul now. By pinching off the spent flower-heads you will prolong the flowering season and keep your containers looking tip-top. Any plant failures can be pulled out and replaced – try small pots of miniature narcissus or iris for instant impact and a bright splash of yellow or purple – the chances are even your local greengrocer will sell them. Pick plants that are only partially or just about to come into bloom and they will carry you through to mid-March.'

Get your veg garden ready

Feb-raised-beds

'Turning to the productive garden, prepare for spring sowing and planting by weeding the vegetable beds through, and then covering them to warm up the soil in colder areas. Heavy duty black plastic sheeting or old carpet will do the job. If your soil is heavy clay, consider constructing raised beds from chunky timber for easier cultivation and growing. Prune apple and pear trees, cut down the spent canes of currants and raspberries ready for the new growth coming through, set early potatoes to ‘chit’ and ‘force’ rhubarb – old terracotta forcers look magnificent if you can find them. In the greenhouse, tidy up and wash pots and seed trays ready for the coming months.'

Get your lawn in order

Feb-lawn
‘It’s time to start on the lawn. It may not be the most glamorous of garden features, but it's probably the largest. If you haven’t already serviced, cleaned or checked the mower from last year, do it now – on a fine mild day you can give the lawn a high cut. This will also serve to pick up any stray leaves and twigs and giving the edges a swift trim will really ‘lift’ the look of the garden and set off the spring bulb show to perfection.'

Spring bulbs

Feb-snowdrops

'Some bulbs such as Snowdrops need to be lifted and divided while still ‘in the green’. Although they will seed themselves around, gently fork up large clumps and move to where you have bare ground – under trees and in shady places are fine, or even where you have narrow strips of soil such as where driveway edges meet fences. Ivy and snowdrops are a good combination and can make the most of a previously un-loved space.'

Give hedges some love

Feb-pruning
‘If structural elements in the garden such as trees and hedges need attention, get this done now. Cut hedges and attend to any tree surgery or tree removal before the birds start nesting.  If you are creating a new, deciduous hedge from scratch, buy bare root whips and get them into the ground before the weather gets too warm. Buying bare root plants is an economical way to create a good hedge and the plants just need to be slit-planted – in goes the spade, give it a wiggle, in goes the root of the whip and then firm the ground back with your boot – really quick and easy.  Don’t forget to protect the plants with spiral guards if you have a problem with browsing rabbit or deer.'

Prune back

Feb-trim
'Some shrubs such as summer-flowering clematis will need to be pruned before they burst into growth and the same goes for dogwoods (Cornus) – such a wonderful contributor to winter colour in the garden. To get the most vibrant colour next year, cut them down to about 10cm above ground level before they come into leaf.  You will be rewarded next winter. If you really can’t bear to lose the bulk of the plant in one go, cut down half the stems this year and the other half next year.

Plan your projects

Feb-planning
'Finally, on days that are too windy, wet or cold to venture out, there is still work that can be done from the comfort of your sofa! Sifting through plant catalogues, books and the internet for ideas and inspiration are invaluable for planning the overhaul of a neglected corner – or maybe the whole garden, and ordering supplies like seeds or tools will all ensure that you are ready to tackle March!'

 

 

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor

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