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Get to grips with your borders

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Friday, 29th January 2021, 09:00

If the weather is anything like it has been for the past few weeks, it is a mistake to think that you can plant things outside now unless under cloches or in a greenhouse.

Plant when conditions are more favourable

I have found that being too eager is a waste of time – wait a few more weeks and plant when the conditions are more favourable, and the plants get off to a flying start. They will soon catch up with the poor struggling specimens that you couldn’t wait to pop in the cold, wet ground.

Deciduous shrubs (ones with leaves that fall off in winter) which flower later in the year can be pruned now. Shrubs like the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), which needs a good hard prune to stop it becoming a spindly monster, and hypericums, which often get infected with rust disease, can also be pruned right back to the ground.

Remove weeds from your borders

If the weather allows, get out in the borders and remove any weeds. Compost the annual weeds but dispose of things like dandelions (perennial weeds that continue growing year on year) in the garden waste collection – they compost at a much higher temperature to kill off any problem seeds.

Removing weeds now will make your job so much easier later on in the season before they take hold.

This is the perfect time of year to get to grips with putting stakes in your borders. You remember what happened last year (and if you were like me probably every year before that too!) when you didn’t get round to it and by the time your peonies, poppies or whatever had started flopping, it was too late?!

Make support structures for your plants

Hazel or birch is the ideal thing to use for ‘pea sticks’ (not just for peas!) and now is a great time to cut it, as the sap rises and it gets a little more pliable before the leaves appear. Make different sized support structures to suit the plants, weaving and tying in with garden twine.

Things like Asters or Achilleas work well with black plastic netting stretched between four stakes – it soon disappears when the plants get going and you can always add a higher level of netting later on using the same stakes. Of course, you can buy a large variety of plant supports but they can be pricey, so perhaps just buy one or two each year and make the rest.

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