Looking after your pond during the Winter months

On days when the mercury dips below zero, it is inevitable that the water in your pond will freeze over. If your pond is stocked with fish, then it is important that you do not just smash the ice on the surface as the shock waves may kill your fish. One idea is to place a hot pan full of hot water on the ice, to slowly melt away the ice. Alternatively, you could install a pond heater or a water feature which should prevent the water freezing over. Floating a ball on the surface of your pond will help to prevent ice forming or will at least slow down the process during very cold, prolonged spells.

A pump will improve the oxygen levels of the water which is important if your pond is stocked with fish or is home to amphibians. Make sure that your pond receives enough light by cutting back any overhanging branches from surrounding bushes and trees. Plants need light to photosynthesise and grow and this will also include the plants growing in and around your pond. Cutting back overhanging branches should also ensure that not too many leaves will fall onto the water. An abundance of leaves will settle on the bottom and will cause your pond to silt up.

January Jobs for the Garden

After the enjoyment and festivities of Christmas, January can arrive with a depressive, dreary feeling.  So, wrap up warm, get out into the garden and work off some of those extra Christmas calories piled on in December.

There are plenty of chores to tackle during January.

  • Look over your trees and shrubs and remove any dead or diseased branches. If any shrubs have been loosened by strong winds then make sure they are standing firm. You may need to stake them to prevent them falling over completely.
  • If you are lucky enough to have fruit trees growing in your garden, then continue pruning and make sure you burn the prunings as a safeguard to prevent any diseases from spreading. You can feed trees and bushes with sulphate of potash.
  • If the weather is mild, then prune any tough deciduous hedges like hawthorn or privet.
  •  Prepare beds for spring sowing of annuals, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Pot lily bulbs indoors or under glass for any that you want to flower early. Cover iris plants with cloches.
  • Finally, examine stored tubers for any signs of mould. If tubers appear withered then soak them in tepid water overnight, making sure they are dry before returning to store.

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Maintenance of your garden shed

It may be small and forgotten at this time of year, nestled at the bottom of your garden but, in order to keep your shed fit for purpose as a store for garden tools, seeds, spring bulbs and the lawnmower, it is a good idea to give it a maintenance check at least once a year.

Sheds can be prone to damp and wood rot and infestations of insects and small animals, like mice and rats. Once you find rotting wood, you will need to cut out the affected area and replace with new timber. It’s also a good idea to check out the source of rot and deal with that so the problem does not reoccur. You can prevent insect and animal infestations by spraying the interior of your shed with appropriate insecticides.

Grab a ladder and have a look at your roofing felt for any leaks and cracks. This may need replacing and it is quite a straightforward DIY job that most householders can undertake themselves. Make sure you fit the new felt as flat as you can, smoothing out any bumps and ridges before nailing down.

Painting the exterior of your shed will also help it to last longer and will make it look smart. You probably won’t need to do this every year but, if you live in an area with particularly heavy rainfall, then you might want to also consider waterproofing the sides.

Garden Chores to Tackle in November

Once we turn back the clocks and the evenings start drawing in, we may feel like hibernating in the warmth of our cosy homes and we might think that there is nothing much to do in the garden until the snowdrops and daffodils start to bloom in early Spring. However, there is still plenty to be done if you fancy getting out into the fresh air and “blowing the cobwebs away” on a bright clear November day.

  • If the weather is dry, you might get a chance to mow the lawn for the last time this year.
  • Plant new deciduous shrubs and hedges. If your garden is particularly cold and exposed, then you will need to protect tender plants. You can still take hardwood cuttings this month.
  • You can also take cuttings of roses. Remember to prune the climbing roses.
  • Continue planting out perennials and dividing those which are already established in the garden.
  • Check stored dahlia tubers for any signs of rotting.
  • Rake up piles of dead leaves from the lawn and from your flower beds.
  • Finish planting tulip bulbs.
  • Make sure ponds are clear of fallen dead leaves as this will cause a build up of silt in the bottom. Remove dead leaves from water lilies.
  • Cover and protect late-sown parsley with cloches or polythene tunnels.