Professional Gardener - Beware of thieves

Security This time of year, security can be an issue for many gardens. Machinery, tools, statuary and plants are among the most popular items targeted by thieves. Regularly check the integrity of boundary walls, fences, hedges and gates, and test security lights, alarms and CCTV cameras around the machinery shed and workshop areas. Double check that sheds, conservatories and greenhouses are locked every night. Quad bikes are a particular favourite because they can be driven away quickly and have a high resale value. Extra security features such as floor clamps and identification marking should be considered for such items.

Cold nights Forecasters are predicting a colder than usual winter. Make sure that sensitive plants are moved into greenhouses and conservatories. Have fleece sheets handy for those that cannot be moved. Newly planted trees and shrubs — especially conifers and less-hardy subjects — will also need fleece wraps to protect from severe cold and drying winds. In the greenhouse and heated conservatories, insulation should now be in place where necessary. Monitor heating systems.

Cold days Ensure that all outdoor workers have suitable clothing and footwear. Plan work so something can be done undercover if the weather turns exceptionally bad. If maintaining or renovating timber furniture, take a look at the new wood stains from Everbuild. Intended to give five-year protection, the quick-drying Wood Stain enhances the natural qualities of wood while providing long-term weatherproof protection. It is available in six shades.

Berries and seeds Many parts of the country have wonderful displays of berries and seeds, so wreaths, garlands and table decorations should look spectacular this year.

Walled garden Except when wet, continue to cultivate in vegetable areas and improve soils with the addition of garden compost or leaf mould if needed. Start winter pruning of apple and pear trees.

Trees, shrubs and hedges Keep an eye on the health and well-being of woody subjects — shape and prune as appropriate. Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous hedging material if there are plans for new screening or boundary repairs in the future.

Paths and hard surfaces Moss- and algae-covered hard surfaces can be even more treacherous in wet or icy weather. Take advantage of any sunny days to clean patios, terraces, steps, hard paths and driveways.

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