Do a bit of hard work in the garden this month to tackle any problems and prepare for the growing season
These essential jobs will prepare your garden for the warmer months
Over winter pests and diseases ease their grip on the garden but it’s worth keeping an eye out to make sure you’re on top of any infestations before warmer weather causes existing problems to multiply.
A little prevention now can save you lots of hard work in spring when the garden comes back to life, so don’t let the cold weather keep you indoors.
Maintenance such as the regular mowing of lawns, weeding and pruning of shrubs is essential, as is tailoring your garden-care plan to the changed conditions in your area.
Follow these simple rules to nurse the garden through the cooler months and ensure plants are strong and healthy for new spring growth.
1. Get mulching
Mulch pots and garden beds to keep weeds at bay, pulling them out as soon as they appear. Wait until after rain to remove weeds from beds and between pavers as the soil is softer, making them easier to pull out with roots attached.
2. Companion planting
Plan a companion-planting system as a solution to pest control. Certain plants act as deterrents to pests and can be used in place of chemical controls.
TIP Try onions and garlic near roses to repel aphids and thrips.
3. Treat black spot
Rose black spot causes leaves to turn yellow with black dots. Pick off and burn infected leaves and give the plant a hard prune in late winter before spraying with a fungicide. There are disease-resistant roses available, so choose those varieties if black spot is a problem in your yard.
4. Evict snails and slugs
Snails and slugs never rest when there is rain about. Collect them and feed them to chooks and ducks if you’re sure they haven’t eaten snail pellets.
To make a trap, half-fill a jar with beer and dig it into the soil, leaving 10mm above the surface. The snails and slugs are attracted to the yeast and crawl in, then get tipsy and drown.
5. Quarantine pots
Isolate any potted plants that show signs of pest or disease infestation and treat them before moving the pots back near other plants.
6. Banish bugs
Look for overwintering pupae or insect eggs on leaves and at the base of plants, particularly those species that are prone to pest infestations. Spray plants with white oil to smother the insect beforethey get the chance to hatch in spring.TIP Remember to always check the underside of leaves.
7. Get rid of weeds
Remove wintergrass from lawns as soon as it appears by using a chemical control, or weed small patches by hand. If you don’t get to this weed in time, it dies down when the weather warms up but leaves seeds that pop up again next year.
8. Respect the soil
Avoid walking on garden beds after heavy rain as you run the risk of compacting the soil, which makes it hard to dig when it dries out and can affect plant growth. Instead, lay large boards that will distribute your weight when walking or kneeling.
9. Water wisely
Adjust automatic sprinklers or irrigation systems to reduce the watering time to half or less of what you use in summer, preventing waterlogged soil. To reduce the risk of fungal diseases, water the garden in the morning at ground level so the soil can dry out before nightfall.
10. Prune with care
To keep trees healthy, remove dead or broken branches as soon as you see them and shape-prune live wood in winter when deciduous trees are dormant.
TIP The correct pruning technique allows wounds to heal rapidly.