Jobs to do in the garden this week.

  • If your pond has frozen over, melt a small area of ice with hot water to release any build-up of gases that could harm your fish. Don't be tempted to break the ice, the shockwave created can kill pond life.
  • Choosing a real Christmas tree.
  • After a frost try to stay off the grass. Treading on the lawn in frosty conditions can damage the grass.
  • Refirm the roots of any shrubs that may have been lifted by frost.
  • Switch outside water taps off at the mains and leave the outside tap open, draining any water, so the pipes don't freeze.
  • Put out feeders for birds, not forgetting fresh water. Encouraging birds into the garden will help reduce the number of insects and slugs.
  • Spray fruit trees. When all the leaves have fallen, spray with a winter tree wash, these are now vegetable oil based, as the traditional tar oil washes have been banned. This cleans the branches and kills fungal spores and over-wintering insects and their eggs. Note: Only use on a calm, still day, cover nearby ponds and green leaved plants, and wear suitable protection (gloves, goggles and mask are advised).
  • After all the windy weather check fence posts and panels are still secure and repair as necessary. Make sure that the shed roof is still water tight.
  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Cover shrubs that are likely to be damaged by frost with garden fleece, sacking or an old light blanket.
  • Move any planted up pots and containers closer to the house so you can enjoy the colours and textures of the plants through your windows.
  • On a dry still day rake up fallen leaves, don't put them on the compost heap, as leaves break down in a cold process, whereas a traditional compost heap breaks organic matter down in a warm/hot process. Put them into a leaf composter, or make leaf mould. How to make leaf mould.
  • Plant or move roses. They like plenty of sun and a clay soil. Leave 60cm (24in) between plants to allow air circulation, which will reduce the chance of infection.
  • Plant apple and pear trees. Check and adjust any stakes on young trees and remove stakes on any trees that have been planted more than 3 years.
  • During autumn and winter, indoor plants will require less feeding and watering. However as the temperature drops outside, the central heating goes on and the temperature in the house tends to go up, so whilst it's a good idea to keep your pot plants on the dry side and not water them too often, you should check a couple of times a week to ensure they haven't totally dried out. Oh and if you have a water spray bottle, hold the plant over the sink or bath and give the foliage a quick little squirt (don't do this to hairy leaved plants like african violets).
  • Autumn or late winter are the best time to lay a new lawn, as it's damper and cooler, allowing the turf to bed in without you having to worry too much about regular watering. See here: laying a new lawn for further information.

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