The Handyman Garden: What To Do December - March

We're moving quickly into the winter months with the longer evenings and more unpredictable weather, and the garden is less of a joy to work in and more of a chore! To keep it in good condition and get it ready for spring planting, there are still some jobs to do over the next four months.


- Clean & maintain garden tools - Harvest remaining root crops such as parsnips, sprouts and late potatoes - Insulate outside taps to prevent freezing - Dig over empty borders ready for planting in the spring - Prune climbers and trees such as Japanese maples, roses, fruit trees and wisteria - Make sure climbers are secure; tie them back or put stakes in (this applies to fruit trees etc too) - Water greenhouse plants sparingly as their growth slows - Look out for aphids and other insects and remove using natural insecticides


- If you have a real Christmas tree, recycle it for mulch - Clean out the greenhouse and give it a good wash, ready for spring - Tidy beds and remove weeds and any leftover root systems - If there is any heavy snowfall, go around brushing it off hedges, trees and large foliage to prevent branches from snapping - Plant amaryllis, hyacinth and other 'Christmas' bulbs for indoor blooming - Ensure regular misting of indoor plants to prevent central heating from drying them out, and stand them on a tray of pebbles to maintain humidity


- Prune wisteria side shoots down to two or three buds - Prune clematis - Cut back ornamental grasses to a few cm from the ground - Prune fuchsias down to one or two buds per shoot - Prune winter-flowering jasmine back to 5cm from the old wood - Build raised beds if you are planning to use them for veg later in the year - Keep off the lawn during snowfall and frosts as much as possible, as the blades can break easily and sustain damage - Chit potato tubers


- Fertilise flowerbeds - Put supports in for any plants that require them - Plant onions, early potatoes and other spring vegetables - Wait for a few dry days and start to mow grass regularly again - Prepare for invasions of slugs and other pests, so protect seedlings - Remove perennial weeds as you find the shoots - Plant gladiolus, crocuses and other corms

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