February is fast approaching so we thought now would be the ideal time to bring you a Gardener’s Guide to February – a selection of practical suggestions to help keep your garden looking blooming marvellous!
February in the UK is characteristically cold, dark and wet. This makes the urge to curl up and hibernate indoors extremely difficult to resist. But for those of us strong enough to persevere, despite the temptations of our Duvet and Netflix, it can be incredibly rewarding. So, have a read of our Gardener’s Guide, suit up in your warmest coat, grab your hat and gloves and show Winter what you are made of!
Our handy little list for the month ahead is bursting full of project ideas to keep your green fingers well exercised. And remember we are in this together! If you need any help or advice you can get in touch with the team on 07388 437098.
1. Clear those weeds
There is no better time than right now to get out and start clearing any weeds that have crept back into your garden.
Typically the Great British weather at this time of year is notoriously damp. These conditions may appear grim, but they actually present us gardeners with an advantage. With the soil so rich and full of moisture digging for weeds is a much less painstaking task. The soil is easily cleared and manipulated, and you spend less time down in the dirt.
2. Plant bare-rooted fruit trees
February is the last call for planting any trees, hedges and shrubs in time for spring. It is also a great time to get planting any bare rooted fruit trees or soft fruits. As long as Frozen ground isn’t a problem, you have a green light to plant anything from apricots to raspberry canes. That’s pretty peachy!
3. Prune trees
Pruning at this time of year is a critical move. It’s best to prune whilst your tree is dormant, before new growth has started. This will ensure your trees and shrubs continue to grow healthily and produce an exquisite flowering when spring comes around.
You should find the best conditions for this type of work will be in the later part of February leading in to early march.
If you have any Apple and Pear trees in your garden they too will need to be pruned before the arrival of spring. Any other fruit trees that call your garden home are best left for the Summer months to prevent Silver Leaf Disease.
4. Prune shrubs
Shrubs will also require a bit of sprucing up in the month of February. These are best pruned after any winter flowering displays are finished.
Not sure where to start with pruning?
Step 1 – Check for disease
Your first task will be to inspect your tree for any branches that may have become
susceptible to disease. These have got to go! If the snowy or icy conditions have killed a few branches this winter, now is the time to take them out of the equation too.
Step 2 – Inspect the branches
Next turn your attention to any branches you no longer desire. When deciding which branches to keep and which to remove keep these things in mind.
The overall objective with pruning is to keep any branches that are vital to the
development or structural integrity of the tree. Anything that does not fit into either category simply should not make the cut!
Seek to eliminate any branches that have overgrown and are crowding your tree.
Chopping these back will increase the amount of sunlight and air that reaches the crown of your tree. These increases greatly improve the growth of leaves and stems as well as lessening the likelihood of your tree developing any issues with fungus or pests.
You should be cutting any branches at the point of the node. The node of a branch is the point where one twig or branch is connected to another.
5. Time to mulch
With your pruning complete, the next step to ensuring happy, healthy trees is to mulch. Typically one of the best times to mulch is late February, just as spring approaches.
Mulching serves a multitude of purposes!
- It prevents weeds from having their wicked way
- It protects your tree from any lawn mower tragedies and, most importantly,
- It is a plentiful source of nutrients that act as food for your tree and other living things
Here is a quick guide to getting the most out of your mulch.
- When choosing which mulch is best to use, always go with the organic. Using bark or wood chips around your tree are the best choice for a few reasons. Firstly they absorb moisture, meaning you spend less time watering your plants. Secondly they are great insulators for soil, protecting it from extreme weather conditions. And finally, they naturally decompose over time, so no messy clear up! *Bonus feature, they are an agricultural decoration, ensuring your trees are dressed to impress.
- After purchasing your chosen mulch, you want to begin by watering it, creating a ton of moisture in the bark itself, but also in the soil that surrounds the tree.
- You then want to begin spreading a mulchy layer evenly, in a wide circle surrounding your tree. Your mulch should be no more than 3-4 inches in depth. Any more than this could have a negative impact on the growth of your tree.
- Spread the mulch outwards, giving the trunk of your tree at least 2-3 inches of breathing space.
- When looking to mulch, only do so if your previous layer is at a minimal level.
6. Create a bird box this February
February is a pinnacle turning point for our birds. Males will already be busy scouting out different territories, looking for the ideal spot to mate and nest.
Now presents an excellent opportunity to create a safe, dry home for our feathered friends.
Here a few tips for creating an inviting and secure home:
Tip 1 – Material to use
Ensure your bird box is constructed with wooden materials. Metal or Ceramic boxes offer no protection for the birds during particularly cold or hot months.
Tip 2 – Bird size matters
Depending on the type of birds you are hoping to attract, your entrance hole can range from 25mm – 32mm in diameter. 32mm will allow Sparrows to nest, however if you are wanting smaller birds such as Blue Tits to move in, 25mm is the ideal spec.
Tip 3 – Space inside for nesting
If you are aiming to create the perfect nesting space, you will want as much room as possible in your bird box. Advice states the minimum amount of flooring your box should possess is 130 square centimetres. Insulation wise, you want your structure to have a 15mm thickness.
Tip 4 – Position of bird box
To keep elements such as rain out of your bird box, find a sheltered place to attach it. Placing it at a vertical or downwards angle will also assist in keeping the water out.
Tip 5 – Safe distance from predators
You want your bird box to be at least 2-3 metres away from ground. This keeps nests at a safe enough distance from any predators looking for breakfast.
Tip 6 – Space to avoid conflict
Do not place your box in a close vicinity to other bird boxes or bird feeders. Birds aren’t particularly neighbourly creatures. Conflict could arise between different families of nesting birds.
With all this done, what next?
With all this hard work finally complete you are ready to welcome in Spring! To get a head-start on the month of March, why not put your feet up, find a notepad, a trusted seed guide and start planning. Whether it’s flowers or fruits that tickle your fancy the next few months will be a prosperous time for your garden. Sow, make sure you don’t miss out!