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Gardening Jobs for February

It may be the shortest month of the year, but February can often surprise us with a wide range of weather conditions. There might be snow and frost one week, followed by a few mild, sunny days, before bitterly cold winds blow in rain and plunging temperatures again. Any work you want to do in the garden has to be guided by the weather.

But even if you can only get outdoors for brief intervals it’s well worth making the effort because some jobs are best done at this time of year. Here are some of them:
 
Plant bare-rooted trees, shrubs and hedging plants as soon as possible after receiving them so they don’t dry out. If you are unable to put them straight into what will become their permanent positions give them a temporary home in any spare corner. There’s no need to worry about planting them ‘properly’ with correct spacing or staking. The only important thing is to make sure the bare roots are covered with soil.
 
Snowdrops are a welcome sight on grey winter days but they are notoriously difficult to grow from bulbs. They are best planted while ‘in the green’ shortly after flowering so now is the time to buy them in. If snowdrops are already established in your garden you can lift and divide the clumps to spread them further. Do you have some to spare? They’d make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for someone!
 
If you need to prune apple and pear trees this year you must do it soon while they are still dormant. If their buds are beginning to open, you’ll have to leave it until next winter. The aim of pruning is to remove any dead or damaged wood, allow more light and air into the tree, and thin out overcrowded fruiting spurs. By doing the latter, fewer apples or pears will be produced but they will be larger and of better quality than if the tree is left to its own devices.
 
Prune summer flowering clematis now to ensure a good display later in the year.
 
If you have rhubarb now is the time to force an early crop by covering some of the crowns with lightproof buckets, boxes or specially designed pottery forcing jars.
 
Start sowing vegetable seeds if the weather allows. If you are not sure when conditions are right follow nature’s lead and observe what wild plants are doing. If new weeds are sprouting so will the hardier vegetables like early carrots, parsnips and broccoli. Onion sets can also be planted.
 
And talking of weeds – the earlier you tackle them, the fewer you’ll have to deal with later.
 
If you will need some expert help with a landscaping project this year, such as building new walls, giving your patio a makeover or installing new decking, don’t delay in asking a local professional landscape gardener to visit and give you a free, no obligation consultation. Finalising your plans now will enable the work to begin as soon as the weather improves and you will have the whole summer to enjoy your new garden.