This is the JANUARY installment of Horticulture Week's month-by-month guide to essential maintenance and management tasks for parks, gardens and grounds maintenance staff.


  • Set up a weather log
  • Establish seed sowing, cuttings and planting diaries/records and plans
  • Keep work plans as flexible as possible to fit around bad weather
  • Place any late seed orders
  • Update events calendar and begin preparations for Easter openings
  • Check insurance policies for staff, public, equipment and machinery
  • Plant work schedules according to weather forecasts if possible


  • Carry out soil tests
  • Remove decaying debris, especially around herbaceous and alpine plants
  • Spread organic matter on areas to be dug
  • Finish servicing equipment such as mowers and tillers

Trees, shrubs and hedges

  • Inspect for wind damage and check ties and stakes
  • Protect newly planted evergreens
  • Still time to plant deciduous subjects if soil conditions allow
  • Move any deciduous trees or shrubs that are badly positioned
  • Prune and shape young trees if necessary
  • Sow seeds of berrying shrubs and trees such as cotoneaster and sorbus
  • Still time to take hardwood cuttings from deciduous species such as cornus and forsythia
  • Brush snowfalls off hedges
  • Plant deciduous hedging material such as beech and hawthorn

Beds and borders

  • Order herbaceous plants for spring planting, choosing foliage and colours to suit
  • Order summer-flowering bulbs for spring planting
  • If weather allows, continue lifting and dividing overgrown herbaceous clumps
  • Take root cuttings from oriental poppies,
  • verbascum and Japanese anemones
  • Inspect dahlia tubers
  • Sow sweet peas indoors and pot-on autumn-sown ones
  • Begin sowing summer-flowering bedding
  • Wall plants
  • Prune wisterias, ivies, Virgina creeper, ornamental vines and climbing hydrangea


  • Check stored bulbs, corms and tubers


  • Check regularly

Greenhouses and conservatories

  • Check heating and clean the house
  • Check for panes loosened by gales
  • Ventilate on mild days and watch for fungal diseases and vine weevil
  • Clean pots and trays
  • Last chance to prune grapes
  • Inspect dahlia tubers
  • Sow sweet peas indoors and pot-on autumn-sown ones
  • Begin sowing summer-flowering bedding

*Jobs should only be undertaken when ground and weather conditions are suitable and will vary according to location and may vary significantly from year to year. And remember that while the year nicely divides into 12 months, activities often overlap.

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