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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