Prune bush and climbing roses, ensuring that you cut out all dead, diseased or damaged growth. Prune to a healthy looking outward-facing bud, and apply a rose feed.
As soon as the grass has started to grow and the weather and ground conditions are favourable, mow the lawn, setting the blades high for the first few cuts.
Weeds will start growing in earnest this month. Try to combat them before they grow too tall, or flower and seed. Regular hoeing, careful use of weed-killers, or applying a mulch of bark will help.
Worn patches and damaged lawn edges can be repaired with new turf – but don’t walk on newly-laid turf for a few weeks to allow the new roots to establish.
Any herbaceous perennials that are infested with couch grass or any other perennial weeds should be lifted so that the roots of the weeds can be removed. Improve the soil well before replanting, and burn or dispose of the weed roots – don’t put them on your compost heap.
Apply lawn feed, as well as weed and moss killer if required. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions as to the application rates, weather, and if the grass cuttings can be composted or not.
Scarify established lawns by raking out the thatch (layer of dead grass) in the lawn to allow light, air and water through to the roots. Use a spring tine rake for small areas, or buy or hire a powered raking machine for larger lawns.
Feed trees, shrubs, climbing plants and perennials with a balanced fertilizer such as Growmore or Vitax Q4. Sprinkle it over the root area at the manufacturer’s recommended rate, then rake or hoe into the surface.
Re-cut lawn edges with a half-moon edging iron to give them a crisp and even look. Repair any damaged areas with new turf.
Remove the dead flower heads of daffodils as they fade, leaving the stems and foliage to die down naturally.
Divide established clumps of snowdrops and winter aconites, or plant new bulbs in the green. Replant to the same depth, and water in with a feed of liquid seaweed.
Feed orchids regularly – but only use specific orchid foods, as other plant foods can be detrimental to them.
Spring bulbs are now starting to make a tremendous show, and you can still buy and plant a wonderful range of flowers including anemones, bluebells, crocus, fritillaries, narcissus, tulips and many more.
Check all plants growing in patio pots and containers, and water well if required. Top dress with new potting compost and apply a slow release fertilizer to ensure stronger, healthier plants.
Begonia tubers can be started into growth in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill. Plant in pots or trays in multipurpose compost – half bury the tubers with the hollow side up and water sparingly.
Regularly feed all flowering pot plants. Check if any of them need to be repotted – if so, only go one size of pot up.
Finish pruning roses and start spraying them with a combined insecticide and fungicide such as Rose Clear Ultra, to ward off black spot and aphids. Repeat every fortnight.
Prune winter flowering shrubs and climbers that have finished flowering, such as winter jasmine, winter flowering viburnums, Christmas box. After pruning, feed them with Vitax Q4 to encourage strong new growth.
Fruit & vegetables
Onions and shallot sets can now be planted. Use a trowel or dibber to create a hole for each, so that the neck of the bulb protrudes above the soil level.
Protect the early blossoms of peaches, nectarines and fruiting cherries during frosty weather with a few layers of horticultural fleece. Remove the fleece during the day to allow bees and other pollinating insects easy access to the flowers.
Many vegetables are sown or planted to emerge when the frosts are over. This is always a guessing game, but covering the soil with polythene before sowing will give you a head start by warming up the soil and keeping it fairly dry and easy to cultivate.
Plant new pot grown fruit trees. A good selection of apples, pears, plums, and gages is now available – patio dwarf, medium and tall growing trees can be planted now.
Seeds of many vegetables can be sown this month. Plant into well prepared seed beds, and cover them with cloches if the weather is cold.
Plant early, second early and maincrop potatoes. These can be planted in the ground or in pots using multipurpose compost – check for any signs of slug damage when foliage appears.
Sow tomatoes and sweet and chilli pepper seeds in pots, using good sowing compost. Indoors with warmth on a light window sill is an ideal position, or better still, a heated propagator.
Plant out sweet peas that were sown in the autumn, and pinch out the tips of the plants to encourage more stems. You can also direct sow the seed now.
Check all houseplants for signs of any pests, particularly as temperatures increase. There is a range of chemical and organic controls available.
Watch out for early attacks of aphids (green and black fly) on new tender shoots of trees, shrubs and perennials. Chemical and organic sprays are available to help you control them.
As the water temperature begins to rise, you can start feeding the fish in your garden pond. Feed small amounts at first, increasing as they become more active. This is also a good time to get the pond water tested for ammonia and nitrate – your local aquatic centre can help with this.
Weeds on paths and drives should be treated with a path and patio weed-killer that contains a residual active agent – this will prevent new weeds growing from seed for up to three months.