In terms of things to do in the garden in February, it might not be the most alluring month to get out in the garden, but there’s still a fair bit to do to get everything ready for spring. The weather can be a bit hit and miss at this time of year, with temperatures ranging from ‘warmish’ to ‘pass me my really thick socks!’ – often in the same week. The jobs that you can undertake in February do depend a bit on what’s happening outside the window, but here are some suggestions for things to do in the garden this month.
Things to do in the garden in February: Plant bare root trees and shrubs
Bare root trees (i.e. trees which literally arrive with no soil attached and not potted up) are generally less expensive to buy and winter (November to March) is the time to put them in. As long as the ground isn’t actually frozen when you plant them, they’ll be quite happy.
Dig a hole that’s at least the same width as the roots and deep enough to accommodate the whole root ball. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the whole with a garden fork. If you’re using a stake for the tree, that needs to go in next, a little off centre. Then put the tree in the hole (it’s useful to have an assistant to hold the tree steady at this stage, if you can find someone prepared to stand out in the rain with you!) and fill in with a 50/50 mix compromising the soil taken from the hole and planting compost. Push the mixture down firmly to make sure there are no air gaps. At this time of year you shouldn’t need to water the new tree, but do keep an eye on it if we have a particularly dry or warm spell.
Prune fruit trees and bushes
When it comes to things to do in the garden in February, pruning in winter may seem a bit odd, but it’s done for different reasons to summer pruning. While pruning in the warmer months helps to boost productivity, pruning in winter helps to control the shape and vigour of the tree. More delicate trees can’t be pruned in winter as they are sensitive to frost, but apples, quinces and pears are all pretty tough and won’t mind at all.
When all the leaf growth is off the trees it’s much easier to assess the condition of the branches. If anything looks dead, unhealthy or broken, remove it, making the cut just into the healthy wood to make sure you’ve removed the whole of the problem area. You can also spot any ‘crossing branches’, which are branches that grow into each other and rub each other’s bark. This can form a weak spot for disease and parasites, so remove the smaller of the branches to keep the larger one healthy.
Things to do in the garden in February: Clear the vegetable plot
If you’re lucky enough to be able to grow your own vegetables, then planting time is just around the corner. Get your plot ready by removing any plant detritus and digging the bed over. You can work in some organic mulch if you have any and give the whole thing a good tidy up.
Prepare plant pots
It won’t be too long until things really start to get going in the garden. If you have pots with seasonal displays, get ahead by preparing them now. Empty out the old soil and give the pots a good clean inside and out, with a power washer if you have one. (Unless your pots are made of aged terracotta, in which case a power washer can cause pieces to break off!) If necessary, replace the broken crock at the bottom with new pieces, making sure they don’t obscure the drainage holes. Get potting compost ready for planting.
Although very little is happening growth-wise, it’s the perfect time of year to catch your breath and get ready for lift off in spring. Later in the year you won’t have as much time to tidy up, so any bigger jobs such as sorting out sheds and greenhouses are also worth looking at now. Roll on spring!
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