Jobs to do in May
April has been unusually dry and warm and it is therefore important to remember to take time out to water your garden and containers. If you haven't already, give your border a bit of a spring clean by removing any dead plants and making sure your borders are weeded. To help keep the weeds down, use a good mulch which will also help to conserve soil moisture. Remember however, that we can still be liable for a late frost usually come around the middle of May, so hold back a while on planting out summer bedding.
Start clipping box (Buxus) hedging to keep it's shape and rejuvenate
Plant up your summer hanging baskets and containers, remembering to protect from late frosts. Also try using a water retention gel, as pots and baskets tend to dry out very quickly
At the end of the month plant out Dahlias
Check the water level of ponds and water features, and top up if necessary. It's very important to remove blanket weed regularly. This can be done by using either a net or rake, or by twisting it around a cane; taking care not to remove any pond life at the same time.
Dig out lawn weeds, such as daisies and dandelions or spray with a selective herbicide
Keep a watch out for blackfly and greenfly developing on shrubs, roses and perennials, and spray with a soft soap solution if infestations are bad
Prepare soil in flowerbeds for summer bedding
With fresh growth well underway by now, tie in shoots of clematis and any other climbers in the garden to firm supports such as trellis
Sow seeds of beans, marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes, two per pot, and thin out the weakest seedling to leave the strongest plant
Earth-up potatoes and plant out any tubers that you may have left
Once the risk of frost has passed - towards the end of the month, take your tomato plant seedlings from indoors and start to plant them outside. Just make sure the soil is warm and dry when planting, so delay if it has been raining
Continue to successional sow beetroot, carrot, cabbage, salad onions, broad beans, peas, turnips and radishes
Jobs to do in April
Spring has finally arrived and we have been blessed with some perfect gardening weather. We can also now start to see with a sigh of relief, what plants have made it through the winter. Don't forget to finish off the major pruning of trees and shrubs before birds start to nest. Dead-head daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, the reason for this is so they don't waste their energy producing seeds! Don't be tempted to fold the leaves over and tie up! Leave them naturally to absorb more goodness for at least six weeks after flowering, so that the bulb can produce the best flowers next year.
Now is a good time to prune forsythias by cutting 1/3rd of branches back hard after flowering.
Prune summer-flowering shrubs such as buddleja, lavatera, hydrangeas and hardy fuchsias.
Sow sweet peas directly outside at the base of obelisks or supports.
Plant summer-flowering bulbs and corms such as alliums, lilies and gladioli.
As this is a time for rapid growth spurts, tie in twining climbers like clematis and honeysuckle regularly.
Remove winter protection from the less hardy plants.
Control slugs and snails now rather than waiting until it's too late!!!
Spread a good compost mulch around border plants to suppress those weeds.
Now is an ideal time to lay turf or sow new lawns from seed.
Give ponds some attention by thoroughly cleaning filters and putting pumps and fountains back into pools.
Earth up early potatoes, and plant second earlies now and the main crop later on in the month.
Time now to feed spring cabbages with a good high-nitrogen fertiliser.
Remove forcing jars from rhubarb plants and let them grow uncovered.
Continue planting potatoes, shallots and onion sets.
Jobs to do in March
The twentieth of this month is officially when spring finally arrives. Hopefully the weather will be warmer and working out doors should be more pleasant, but don't be fooled, although forsythias are bursting with bloom and warming up dark corners, there could still be frosts lurking around. Now is a good time to replenish those depleted nutrient reserves with a good fertiliser and gently fork over the surface of the soil and allow air to get to roots.
Now is a good time to lift and divide perennials such as Crocosmias, hostas, peonies, Astilbes and snowdrops.
Prune back the larger flowered clematis, roses and early flowering shrubs.
Spray and feed roses to help them on their way and to prevent pests.
Prune Hydrangea paniculata cultivars, cutting off spent flower heads back to a strong pair of buds
Grass will begin to grow this month and will need cutting before it gets too long. Hand dig out perennial weeds and their root system using a hand fork. Gently rake the grass to remove winter debris. Re-sow any bare patches. Using a garden fork to rough up the soil surface, then firm and level before applying an appropriate grass seed. Water the newly seeded areas regularly.
Now is a perfect time to prune back shrubs grown for their winter stems, such as Cornus and salix. Cut back to around 30 cm (12 inches) to stimulate colourful young stems for next winter.
Plant late-summer-flowering herbaceous perennials such as Helenium and Rudbeckia.
This is a good month to plant evergreen shrubs, trees and hedging.
If the weather is mild hoe beds if weeds start to appear.
Plant early potatoes at the end of the month outdoors in a warm spot.
This is the month to sow lettuce and rocket.
On a windowsill in-doors or in a heated propagator sow cucumbers, sweet peppers and tomatoes.
Jobs to do in February
With January now behind us, we can hopefully say goodbye to the last of the snow! Now is a good time to do all those little jobs that we often put off. So dig out the pressure washer from the back of the garage and wash down paths and decking to clear them of algae and moss. Remember to re-treat decking boards with a preservative once you have done this, but make sure it's a dry clear day.
Now is a good time to deadhead your winter-flowering pansies, all bedding plants, and pick off any damaged leaves.
Prune back roses in order to promote the growth of young flowering stems. Remove any dead or weak stems back to healthy shoots, and any crossing branches as this can cause damage where the stems rub together.
Lift and divide congested herbaceous perennials, and cut down ornamental grasses that were left for winter interest, not forgetting to remove any of the dead by combing it through with either your hands or a hand cultivator.
Prune autumn fruiting raspberries down to almost ground level.
Now is a perfect time to transplant those shrubs that are growing in the wrong place whilst they are still in their dormant period.
To encourage birds into your garden why not set up a nesting box, before nesting really gets under way. Be careful where you place it. Do not place close to a bird-table or feeding area, as the regular comings and goings of many other birds are likely to prevent breeding in the box, and as always ensure a direct flight-path to the entrance.
Cover areas needed for early seed sowing with polythene or cloches (that were cleaned in January) to warm the soil.
Place potatoes 'rose end' up in a frost-free place to 'chit'.
Now would be a good time to add lime to soil to reduce club root disease in brassicas.
It's also now time to sow onions, cabbages, early leeks, lettuce and peas under cover and broad beans, carrots, hardy peas and parsnips outside in soil that's been warmed with cloches.
Plant out shallots and garlic.
At the end of the month, sow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and chillies in heated propagators or failing that a sunny windowsill will do.
Sprinkle a generous amount of sulphate of potash fertiliser around fruit trees and bushes.
Jobs to do in January
Happy New to you all, and good gardening during 2011. The end of last year saw some very heavy snowfalls, giving us extra challenges for this time of year. Most of us will probably be mourning the loss or damage of some much loved plants, and more snow could be on the way. Use the daylight hours wisely to repair the damage and protect struggling plants and shrubs, remember if the snow does return try to get out into the garden and brush the snow-fall off the branches of larger shrubs and hedges. Snow is amazingly heavy so don't allow it to settle on conifers or evergreens as this will cause deformation and can break slender branches.
Now is a good time to prune wisteria by reducing last year's growth to spurs of two or three buds.
Complete any pruning of vines, birches or acers, which can be susceptible to bleeding as the sap rises. However, avoid pruning in winter any of the prunus family, both fruiting and ornamental varieties.
Cut away old hellebore foliage to reveal the emerging flowers, being careful not to bruise the new shoots whilst doing so.
Apply a dressing, of phosphate of potash to bushes and fruit.
Renovation-prune deciduous shrubs such as Philadelphus and Sambucus.
Remove any potted peaches or nectarines to the shelter of a cool greenhouse or covered porch to prevent rainwater spreading the fungal peach leaf curl disease.
Freestanding trees of this family also including almonds and apricots need to be sprayed twice with a copper fungicide or Bayer root and vegetable protective fungicide just before colour shows in the bursting flower buds.
Keep lifted fuchsia and pelargoniums on the dry side, examine any stored tubers, bulbs and corms for deterioration, sprinkle with sulphur powder. On winter pansies and violas, remove leaves with downy mildew and black spot. Dispose of any badly affected plants.
Most of all don't forget to put out food and water for the wildlife that might be visiting your garden and you'll be rewarded every time you look out of the window!
Prune apple and pear trees, currants and gooseberries. Use winter tree oil wash to control over wintering pests on fruit trees.
A tasty early harvest of rhubarb can be enjoyed by covering dormant buds with a protective mulch of straw or dried leaves, then forcing them on by covering the crowns with a bucket or forcing jar.
Sow early radishes and lettuces into a cold frame.
Purchase and 'chit' seed potatoes.
Look at seed catalogues and start planning your beds for the coming year. Rotate crops where possible.
Check and sharpen tools where necessary and wash old pots ready for seedlings.
Now is the time to improve soil with well-rotted manure.