What to do in the garden in January
January is the beginning of the gardening year – a time for fresh starts, renewed energy, and grand plans for the twelve months ahead.
Jobs in the garden this month are mostly about keeping things trim and tidy, and getting ready for the year to come. If you're itching to get growing, there are a few things you can do besides the obvious planting bare root roses, chitting first early spuds and starting off your sweet peas. Check out what to sow and grow this month right here.
Feed birds throughout winter to encourage them into your garden
It might be cold outside, but there are still plenty of jobs to do in the garden this month. Here are the main ones:
- Put your new-year enthusiasm to good use by cleaning pots, tools, water butts and greenhouses in preparation for spring. It’s not the most glamorous of tasks, but it will set you up for a great growing season.
- Start planning what you want to do with your garden in the months to come. Now is the time to order seeds and plants from the comfort of your armchair (see below).
- Check your winter protection is still working for you — survey any stakes, supports and ties that might have been damaged in bad weather.
- Continue looking after wildlife — put out food for hungry birds and continue to leave some areas of your garden uncut for shelter until the spring.
In the flower garden
Deadhead winter-flowering pansies to prevent them from going to seed
Here are your main tasks to do in the flower garden this month:
Pruning and tidying
- Prune your wisteria — cut back summer side shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
- Prune rose bushes –January is the perfect time to do this as roses are still dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
- January is the earliest that you can prune rhododendron. Read our guide to learn more.
- If your honeysuckle is very overgrown, now is the best time to prune & cut back hard to encourage healthy, new growth.
- Cut back ornamental grasses. Clip the old foliage from ornamental grasses before new growth begins — cut back to within a few centimetres of the ground.
- Tidy up perennials. Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like sedum — be careful of any new growth.
- Remove old hellebore leaves — this will make new blooms more visible as they emerge this spring.
- Cut back willows. Trim the damaged, diseased and the oldest stems ofbrightly coloured willows, and thin out overcrowded stems.
- Deadhead winter pansies. Remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed.
In the vegetable garden
Harvest parsnips now
The vegetable garden might feel quiet in January, but there are still plenty of jobs to do this month. If you want an excuse to get outdoors on a fine, January day, here are some things to be getting on with:
- Harvest parsnips and leeks — now’s the perfect time to do this.
Protect potato grow bags with horticultural fleece on cold nights if your greenhouse is unheated.
- Remove yellowing leaves from winter brassicas — they’re of no use to the plant and can harbour pests and diseases.
- Prepare the ground for early peas. Place a cloche over the soil this month, to help warm up the ground for a few weeks before sowing.
In the fruit garden
Prune gooseberries in January to encourage new growth next summer
Here are the main jobs to do in your fruit garden this month:
- Begin pruning apple and pear trees — if you haven't done so already; it’s best done while the plants are still dormant.
- Prune blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.
- Leave plums, cherries and apricots alone until the summer — pruning them now will only make them susceptible to silver-leaf infections.
- Force rhubarb plants by placing an upturned bucket or bin over the crown. The tender pink stems will be ready in about 8 weeks’ time.
- Order fruit bushes, such as currants, now and plant in a well-prepared bed in a sheltered position; they will be a lot tastier than supermarket produce!
Looking after your lawn
Avoid walking on your lawn whenever it is blanketed by heavy frost or snow, as this will damage the grass beneath.
Other jobs around the garden
Brush heavy snow off hedges and conifers
Here are some other jobs you can do around the garden this January:
- Check your climbers and climbing shrubs are securely attached to their supports with ties.
- Get a headstart on weeds. Remove any lurking weeds — roots and all — from borders.
- Remove heavy snow from greenhouses and cold frames to prevent glass being damaged.
- Brush heavy snow off hedges and conifers to prevent the branches from snapping out under its weight.
- Shred your Christmas tree and add it to compost bins. Alternatively, the stripped down branches make great pea sticks.
- Feed the birds — Hang fat balls and keep bird feeders topped up to attract birds, which will in turn eat garden pests.
- Remove slimy patches from patios and paving — scrub with a broom or blast with a pressure washer.
- Plant amaryllis bulbs in pots now, for spectacular indoor flowers in early spring.
- Move potato planters inside as frosts will kill the foliage.
- Inspect fruits and vegetables in storage and remove any that are diseased.
- Check Dahlia tubers in storage and remove any that are showing signs of rotting.
- Hydrate indoor plants. Central heating can dry the air in your home and cause damage to indoor plants. Mist house plants regularly and stand them on a tray of pebbles filled with water to increase humidity.
From your armchair
Order fruit trees ready for planting in spring
January is a great time to plan your garden for the year ahead. Make the most of this quieter time to do the following garden admin from the comfort of your armchair:
- Plan your vegetable plot. Consider good crop rotation to prevent pests and diseases building up in the soil.
- Order seeds. Draw up a garden plan to help decide the quantities of each seed you need.
- Order spring-planting crowns and tubers. Think about dedicating a bed to perennial vegetables such as asparagus, rhubarb and artichokes.
- Order fruit trees now for spring planting.
- Order clematis.
- Order fuchsias, geraniums and lobelia, in preparation for the busy spring period.