Colour your life in February
If your garden ideas are taking shape now but you’d like some extra inspiration then what about visiting your local garden centre. They are getting ready for the new season and may have some pre-season offers to get you started. Plus you can get a sense of the latest trends and ideas. If, after all that, you need even more creative input, then why not book an appointment with a garden designer or landscape gardener?
This is the ideal time to work on improving your garden. For example by constructing paths or patios, restoring the lawn or enriching the soil with nutrients.
You can start pruning, planting and replanting now.
Plus get the kids involved – perhaps with a little easy indoor gardening such as sowing cress and watching it grow!
Wildlife in the garden
Do you have nesting boxes in your garden? If so, they will need a thorough clean to remove any vermin so that birds that want to nest in the boxes this spring will not be bothered by them.
On frost-free days a few old branches can be pruned off shrubs at the base, (not on spring-flowering shrubs), so that more light and air can get to the heart of the bush. This also promotes the growth of new shoots.
Cutting away an excess of old foliage stimulates the growth of young, fresh leaves. Also remove shoots from places where they should preferably not grow (on paintwork and under eaves). This also applies to shoots of climbers such as Russian vine (Fallopia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus) and trumpet creeper (Campsis).
Prune your fruit trees before the end of February. Later pruning can lead to loss of sap. Bear in mind that vigorous pruning will promote the growth of substantial shoots. Wait until May before pruning trees with stoned fruits - such as cherries, plums, nectarines, peaches and apricots - because of the risk of silverleaf disease.
Prune newly planted hedges
If you want a newly planted hedge to develop well over the coming spring, you need to cut it back before the end of February. This particularly applies to varieties such as privet, hawthorn and hornbeam (Carpinus). Flowering hedges (such as Forsythia) are best cut back after flowering.
Cover wounds with wound dressing. The risk of fungal infections is great, particularly on deciduous varieties. With conifers always leave a branch stump; you should therefore not saw smooth to the trunk. On deciduous trees make sure that the collar - the thickening at the start of the branch - is left in place.
Plant and replant shrubs
If there is no frost, now is an excellent time to plant and replant deciduous shrubs. Many varieties (including hedge plants) are offered with bare roots. If there is a frost or if you do not have time to plant them immediately, you should entrench the roots temporarily. Replant shrubs with as much soil as possible around the roots.
Check whether perennials in beds and borders have been lifted by the frost. Push them back into the soil.
General garden improvements
February is a good time for doing all sorts of maintenance in the garden, like constructing or improving paths and patios, or erecting a fence, pergola or play equipment for children.
Evergreen trees and shrubs continue to lose moisture in the winter. Therefore it is best to water them during long dry spells if it is not freezing and the ground is frost-free. The plants find it difficult to draw up moisture if the ground is frozen. This can result in them drying out. If there is a hard frost forecast you might consider covering more tender plants with a garden fleece.
Weeds may already have grown significantly, particularly annual meadow grass and other annuals. It is best to remove them by hand as hoeing can damage the roots of your ornamental plants.
Clean out nesting boxes
A thorough clean ensures that any surviving vermin is removed from the box so that it does not bother the new hatchlings.
Restore or improve your lawn
You can start restoring the lawn from the end of February. Turf can be laid during frost-free weather and you can seed patches. If a particular ‘track’ keeps getting worn in your lawn it might be worth laying something like stepping stones.
This is the best time to remove trees. Leave the removal of big trees to a professional/tree surgeon. They have the right equipment and know precisely how to avoid any damage.