Monthly Gardening Tips
Gardening tips to ensure a more beautiful garden all year round.
In November, the clocks have been re-set for winter time, days are much shorter now, and often wetter and much colder. Conditions are uninviting and generally much more challenging especially if there are strong winds and/or frost. Occasionally mild sunny spells may prevail but not for long often replaced by wetter and much windier conditions. Still we need to exploit any mild spells as valuable opportunities to complete any outstanding gardening tasks. This month is often the month for cutting back/tidying and also traditionally a very busy period for planting (bare-rooted and/or rootballed) new hedging, trees and shrubs.
- Remove fallen leaf from lawn areas and use to make leaf mould, an excellent compost for planted border. Simply dampen collected leaves and store in a black plastic bag. Pierce bag and set aside for 6 months
- Check and remove (rake/scarify) any moss and thatch from lawn areas
- If temperatures remain mild, grass will continue to grown, wait for dry conditions before giving the lawn a trim
- Check to ensure that all tree stakes and ties are secure
- Apply Autumn/Winter lawn feed (high in phosphates and potash) to encourage good root development
- November is a good month to take a critical look at the garden, correct any mistakes, determine and plan changes for spring and remove any unwanted trees or shrubs
- Time is running out to complete any remaining planting of tulip bulbs
- Tidy all planted borders and remove faded deciduous plants
- Check all pot plants which will dehydrate quickly in windy conditions
- As temperatures fall, it is important to provide some water and food for local birdlife.
Plenty of times when the weather during the day at least continues to be mild, but the colder night temperatures often make ground conditions damp and soft. It is a great time of year for the stunning autumnal colour displays which begin as the temperatures fall and the blazing orange and red leaf colours replace the summer greens. One also needs to be careful not to cause any potential damage to the lawn surface which will be softer during this period. Predictably October temperatures will begin to fall and the days will become shorter and colder. It is still a busy month to complete many outstanding important gardening tasks including pruning, trimming, cutting back, transplanting, tree staking all important garden maintenance tasks. During this period the garden is also stunningly beautiful as the autumnal look is in full swing and the stunning variety of autumnal leaf colours is an absolute joy to see.
- Regularly remove fallen leaf from lawn areas and give the lawn a good rake to remove any moss or thatch.
- As the grass will continue to grow albeit more slowly, trim all edges for a neater look
- Prune climbing roses, cut and tidy any herbaceous perennials which have died back
- As they lose leaf, give deciduous shrubs a light prune to help improve shape
- Repair any damaged lawn areas and seed new areas
- Apply Autumn/Winter lawn feed (specially formulated for use at this time of year)
- If you’re planning on starting to grow fruit or vegetable in the spring, now is a good time to clear the ground and do initial dig allowing the oncoming colder winter to break down the rough soil into a fine crumbly texture.
- No need to wait until spring to make changes, autumn is a great time to plant spring bulbs, shrubs or trees. Autumn is a very busy planting period, allowing plants to settle in time for the harsher colder winter weather.
In normal circumstances, September would usually mark the end of summer and the start of autumn, and after our wonderful summer, already the new month is bringing signs of autumn creeping in. As day and night temperatures fall, conditions will cool considerably, and the earlier setting sunsets and diminishing evening light, opportunities for garden work will reduce. However September is still a busy and important month in the gardening calendar. Soil temperatures remaining warm and more moisture in the atmosphere can be expected, ensuring good soil conditions. This is an ideal time to keep the garden looking good, complete outstanding maintenance tasks and introduce new plants.
- Cut back and dead head (remove faded blooms) summer flowering perennials
- Transplant evergreen shrubs
- Establish a new lawn (roll turf or seed)
- Plant Spring flowering bulbs
- A good time to give the hedge a good clip
- Divide clumping herbaceous perennials
Already this summer, the garden has endured weather of extremes, very hot periods leading to prolonged dry spells and more recently very heavy rainfall which unfortunately has produced major flooding in some areas. Usually by the time we reach August, the garden has hopefully come through intact the usual challenges and sometimes disappointing unpredictable vagaries of Irish summer weather. Often a quiet month, however the challenges of prolonged dry spells, occasional intense heat and few cold wet spells can create unexpected work. Traditionally this period represents a changing transitional phase in the garden year as we move from the peak flowering performance of the summer months of June and July before the plant season prepares itself to slip quietly away and make ready for the onset of autumn. But, if you are looking for more flower power and a longer flowering performance to fill any current gaps in the planted borders now is the time to do it. Try filling those gaps now with reliable flowering perennials and to create a strong flowering display well into the autumn this year but also each and every subsequent year too.
Splendid looking late summer flowering and easy to grow perennials includes Helenium, Liatris, Rudbeckia, Echinacea and Aster. Also worth looking for the more compact and evergreen Agapanthus White Storm (white flowers) and Blue Storm (blue flowers).
Other key tasks this month:
- Prune the summer (June and July) flowering shrubs ( Philadelphus, Deutzia, Weigela etc) now or as soon as flowering has finished
- Now is a good time to give all hedges a trim
- Water any plants especially potted plants and hanging baskets which might be showing signs of stress
- Plants in pots should be watered regularly and not allowed to dry out
- Ideal time to take semi-ripe cuttings to propagate new plants
- Regularly dead head faded blooms to extend the blooming period
- Continue to mow lawn regularly, trimming edges and feed (tip: feed when rain is expected) to produce a lush lawn display
- Continue hoeing to control weed/grass growth in all planted borders (‘hoe light and often’)
It’s been a fantastic start to the month of July, with cloudless blue skies and record sunshine and high temperatures persisting throughout the country. Most people will probably be spending a great deal more time in the garden, hopefully enjoying the Mediterranean style ‘outdoor living’ experience weather conditions and understandably having little time for any garden maintenance.
The prolonged dry spell will undoubtedly challenge many plants but most especially any newly planted trees or plants. New trees and shrubs are until (at least 1 year) the roots systems are more developed are vulnerable to drying out. It is therefore important that these plants are watered regularly (in some cases daily) and preferably very early in the morning or late evening when plants can better absorb the water, and less water is also lost due to evaporation. Next year with new water charges expected to be introduced, gardeners may want to start planning a more cost effective means of watering plants (installing water butts, rain harvester tanks etc).
The dry weather will also slow the rate of grass growth so mowing will not be too onerous this month. Another advantage of the hot spell will be as noticeable reduction in the damage caused by slugs and snails to new herbaceous plants. Slugs or snails do not like hot weather as dry surfaces are more difficult to traverse and making them more vulnerable to attack by predators.
But if you do wish to take a brief break from the more leisurely garden enjoyment, here are some tasks to do this month:
- Cut back to ground or prune spring flowering shrubs and perennials
- Water all container plants regularly and/or consider moving some to shaded corners to prevent drying out
- Prolong summer flowering by dead heading regularly (simply cut faded blooms)
- Now is an ideal time to take softwood cuttings of shrubs
- Check supporting stakes of tall growing herbaceous plants like Delphiniums
- Avoid mowing the lawn too short as the risk of scorching the grass will be very high. Lawns which have turn yellow or brown by sun and higher temperatures will make a full recovery once ‘business as usual’ weather resumes.
- Continue hoeing to control and remove any weed growth in planted borders, containers and raised bed areas, removing any weed before they flower (tip ‘hoe light and often’).
The beginning of June greeted us with fantastic warm and sunny Mediterranean weather, a very welcome change to the late cold and damp conditions since the start of the year. With many areas reporting new high temperature records, has pushed plant growth into overdrive. The results are that trees, shrubs and flowers are now all bursting with new growth. June which is normally a month in which to enjoy and relax in the garden, will this year at least be for many gardeners a very busy month.
There are many tasks to keep most flowering plants at their blooming best and the summer border full of colourful scented displays. Tasks being less onerous this month, It is a time to enjoy the garden display and apart from mowing the lawn, dead heading to prolong the flowering display, controlling slug damage and some weeding being the main activities. Other key tasks this month:
- Prune spring flowering shrubs and perennials, the latter can be cut to the ground which will produce fresh new foliage and possibly a bonus flower display
- Plants in pots should be watered regularly to prevent drying out
- Encourage your plants to continue blooming by dead heading regularly, this helps to prevent plants from setting seed and prolongs summer flowering displays
- Ideal time to take softwood cuttings of shrubs
- Check supporting stakes of tall growing herbaceous plants like Delphiniums
- Mow lawn regularly, trim edges and feed (tip: feed when rain is expected) to produce a pristine striking display (tip: lawns will look better by avoiding cutting too short during hot dry conditions)
- Continue hoeing to control weed growth in all planted borders, removing any weed before they flower (tip ‘hoe light and often’)
- Tip: give your Roses a useful potassium boost by laying banana skins (outer facing upwards) on the soil around the plant and allow to wither.
- Recent wet spells have also meant a dramatic increase in slugs and snails, be vigilant to protect vulnerable plants against damage
May is usually when we begin to feel human again as this month marks the official start of the summer season. Hopefully as the days and brightness become longer and warmer, we can look forward to a very busy period for gardening.
Normally one would expect at this time, much of the early expected spring growth would now be thriving? Not so this year, as the prevailing very cold and damp conditions have impacted significantly on spring growth, with most growth being at least 4 weeks behind.
Still we live in hope and expectation, each day bringing with it plenty of newly emerging growth. Beautiful new leaf, new buds and flowers of herbaceous perennial shrubs and flowers are a welcome sight and exciting to observe gaps left by winter dormancy quickly filling out.
The late seasonal start brings extra activity and the principal tasks this month will be to control the growth of annual weeds and maintain the lawn areas.
Other key tasks this month:
- Annual weeds will rapidly appear now and there are various means of control available. Mulching with bark or pebbles or home-made compost can help. Simply pulling out weeds by hand is tedious and reasonably successful, but you must remove the root also otherwise the chances of the weed re-growing are high.
- Hoeing on dry days is less backbreaking and more successful for keeping weeds as well as slugs under control. Weeds will quickly dry and die and disturbing the soil regularly can reduce potential hiding places for slugs.
- A less labour intensive method is to use a systemic weedkiller (kills foliage and root) but be careful and avoid any spray on nearby plants.
- Shrubs are beginning to look their best now and the sight and scent of flowering shrubs such as Choisya Mexican Sundance or Choisya ternata simply captivating. Extend the enjoyment by considering complementary planting around perimeter of shrubs, using summer flowering annuals or reliable perennials like Primula can offer good contrast and additional seasonal interest
- May is a busy period for the lawn area, regular mowing, weeding, feeding (apply a fertiliser high in nitrogen essential for good grass growth) and watering (if required) is peaking now at this time of the year.
- Although the risk of frost is still a possibility, it is a good time to start preparing and planting up the pots and containers for summer flowering displays. Ensure that the growing medium is suitable for the plant, most are lime tolerant but popular acid loving plants (Skimmia, Pieris, Azaleas, Rhododenrons, Leucothe etc) will require specific soil or growing conditions i.e. ericaceous soils. Most plants prefer reasonably free draining soil conditions and add a layer of bark or pebble mulch to soil layer, which will help to conserve moisture.
- May marks the beginning of planting out summer flowering Dahlia tubers.
- Now is a good time to give ornamental hedges such as Box a trim to help retain shape.
- Check all plants in newly planted borders/gardens regularly to ensure there are no problems due to lack of moisture, or may have become loose in the ground because of windy conditions etc
- Only after flowering has finished, now is a very good time to prune to preferred size and shape spring flowering shrubs (Forsythia, Kerria, Spirea etc).
- Spray roses which are vulnerable to blackspot disease, especially in damper regions.
At this stage many gardeners will be wondering if we are ever going to see a spring this year. Since New Year the weather has been hugely disappointing often cold and wet and generally poor weather for doing any gardening. The prolonged spells of heavy rain made doing any ground work impossible and in recent weeks we have seen temperatures plummet and heavy snowfalls in some areas. An occasional sunny spell reminds us just how poor the weather has been. Hopefully all will begin to settle and we can look forward to some more pleasant conditions as well as some ‘April showers’.
At this stage some gardeners may be feeling anxious and aware that if temperatures improve dramatically, there will be an immediate increase in workload and staying ahead might be difficult? This month is a wonderful period in the gardening calendar, every day brings new surprises, new additions and new vibrant colours. April can be a wonderful month in the garden and witness a period bursting with activity, excitement and delights.
Key tasks this month:
- Final opportunity to plant any bare root trees, shrubs or hedging.
- Most herbaceous perennials will after 3-5 years form large clumps and become very congested. Now is an ideal time to divide and re-plant. Simply dig out large clump and separate using garden fork or spade and replant
- Time to plant summer flowering bulbs (Alliums, Dahlia, Gladiola, Lily etc). Also good time to plant evergreen shrubs and trees.
- Apply a top dressing of bark mulch to planted beds to conserve moisture and impede weeds. Also creates an attractive neat and tidy look to the border. (Tip: water soil before applying top dressing)
- Usually this is the time to cut/remove the faded blooms of spring bulbs, do not remove foliage for at least 4-6 weeks in order to allow the bulbs to replenish food resources for next year.
- Grass growth so far has been slow but if conditions are suitable lawns can be spruced up and given a spring cut. Any general lawn care including tidying edges, raking and removing thatch can also be done this month.
- Apply a weed & feed to encourage healthy grass growth and discourage weeds, but be careful, grass can be easily damaged ‘scorched’ with excess dosage, if in doubt use liquid feeds. Wet area first before applying liquid feed.
- Check planted borders for any new weeds, a quick tidy up with the hoe will significantly reduce the need for any weeding later in season. Remove any blooming invasive weeds such as Dandelion which will self seed profusely throughout the garden. Worth remembering that ‘One year’s seeding is seven years weeding’.
March sometimes known as the month of many weathers because conditions can vary quickly and widely as rain, strong cold winds, warm sunshine, frost even snow are all possible. Despite being an unpredictable month for doing some gardening, by the middle of the month with some luck, the weather will have settled and temperatures will begin to rise.
- Tidy the planted borders and apply a top dressing of bark mulch, this will help to retain moisture and heat in the soil, suppress weeds and create an attractive neat and tidy look to the border. (Tip: water soil before applying top dressing)
- Faded spring bulbs should be dead headed and only cut and remove foliage after it has faded.
- Create additional summer flowering perennials by simply lifting and dividing existing clumps.
- Set lawn mower blades to highest position for first cut and gradually reduce height settings to midpoint as season progresses.
- General lawn care includes tidy edges, rake and remove thatch, apply moss killer treatment
- If required now is a good time to re-pot any container plants, larger pots, remove top 30mm layer of soil and replace with new soil/compost mix, water and feed.
- Start pruning roses and cut back to within 150-200mm of ground level, remove any old woody shoots
- A good time to plant new borders and any bare-root tree planting should be completed this month
- Check that all newly planted trees and shrubs are well secured to protect them from damage by strong March winds.
Traditionally and for gardeners especially, February can be a very difficult and unpredictable month. Apart from being one of the coldest months of the year with regular spells of frosts and possibly even snow, the weather conditions can vary considerably from cold yet bright sunshine to very wet and windy conditions. But still there are also visible signs of the new spring to be seen in perhaps more sheltered areas. Early blooming snowdrops, crocuses and even some daffodils are all now breaking through at ground level. Otherwise and similar to other winter months, the February gardening tasks are very much focussed on planning but when weather permits some gardening tasks might be possible.
- Tidy planted borders and remove any fallen leaf or debris from lawns, clean patio and pathway areas
- If you haven’t already done so, now is probably the last opportunity before the new season, to use any collected leaf to make valuable leaf mould
- Continue to plant bare root trees and shrubs so long as ground is not too wet or frozen
- Start pruning roses, reducing height to within 150-200mm of ground level
- Good time to prune to shape summer flowering shrubs and climbers (spring flowering plants should be cut back after flowering has finished)
- Save time and effort on preparing ground for new border areas by allowing lower temperatures to break down the clumpy sods after the initial dig
- Move any delicate plants to a sheltered spot and protect all potted planted plants during periods of hard frost
- Check lawns for moss (apply a moss treatment if necessary) and give lawn area a light mow (only during dry spells) to keep lawn looking neat
- Lightly brush off any snow from shrubs to reduce any potential damage to plants
- Improve the appearance of planted borders by applying mulch topdressing but do so now and risk disturbing or damaging newly emerging spring flowering bulbs
- February is often a very difficult month for our feathered friends, so do not forget to leave out some feeding (and water) for the birds.
The weather in January can be very wet and cold, often making the ground conditions poor and unsuitable for doing much work in the garden. Gardeners can use the extra time to plan some changes and improvements to the garden. Weather permitting, work is focused on keeping garden areas tidy and if ground conditions are dry, some remedial works may be also possible.
- As temperatures near freezing, leave out some food and water for the birds
- Tidy planted borders and remove any fallen leaf or debris from lawn areas
- If possible now is a very good time to do some winter digging and aerate lawn
- Plant deciduous bare root trees and shrubs so long as ground is not too wet or frozen
- Start winter pruning of hardy summer flowering shrubs and prune trees to shape
- Plant up window boxes and containers with seasonal colour (e.g. winter flowering pansies, cyclamens, heathers)
- Give lawn area a light mow (only during dry spells) to keep lawn looking neat
- Check and secure all tree ties and shrub supports
- Remove snow from trees and shrubs to prevent damage
- Plants looking good now include the vibrant red and yellow colours of Cornus (Dogwoods) and heavenly scented flowers of Sarcococca hookeriana (Christmas Box), Hammelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel) and Skimmia japonica
Ready to talk us about your next Landscaping project?
Owen Chubb Landscapers
1 Crannagh Way,
(01) 492 0904
(087) 230 6128
(01) 492 0904
(087) 230 6128