Monthly Garden Maintenance Diary


The fours gardening seasons are divided into three months.

Spring – March April May
Summer – June July August
Autumn – September October November
Winter – December January February

The maintenance of your garden will be partly determined by where your garden is situated, the plants you are growing, and your region’s weather patterns through the year. However, below are some general guidelines for each month.

Photography credit is Anna Omiotek-Tott



It is the first month of spring and the garden awakens from its long winter sleep. Many of us gardeners are eager to get outside and start gardening and planting. However, we must restrain ourselves as the weather is unpredictable and there is still a chance of hard frost and snow.
• Remove weeds as soon as they appear when the soil warms up. Easier to get them out while they are young.
• If you did not get round to mulching in February it can still be done this month. Lay 5cm to 7cm depth of finely shredded mulch across all your planting borders.
• Continue to plant climbers.
• Prune bush and shrub roses. Remove dead and unhealthy stems, and thin out overcrowded growth. Prune flowering stems to an outward-facing bud. In spring you can hard prune your bush and shrub roses.
• Deciduous species of ornamental grasses such as Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’ and Deschampsia cespitosa should be cut down to the ground this month before new growth appears.
• If you have dogwoods such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ or Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’, prune them hard now, leaving one or two buds on each stem. The new stems that appear will give you the beautiful colours that dogwoods are known for. The cut stems can be left to harden off and used as plant supports.
• Cut down old stems from perennials to make way for the new growth.
• Lift and divide congested clumps of perennials.
• Start adding supports around tall perennials. Do this now as the stems are just emerging. It is difficult to put supports in when the plants are fully grown and could damage your plants.
• Start planting hardy perennials. Keep them well watered until they have established.
• Protect the shoots of vulnerable plants such as hostas from slugs and snails. Put a thick layer of coarse horticultural grit or crushed eggshells around the plants.
• Pot up canna tubers indoors. Water sparingly until shoots appear, then gradually increase watering as growth progresses. Do the same with your dahlia tubers.
• Deadhead daffodils as the flowers fade. Leave the foliage intact until it turns yellow, so that the energy goes back into the bulb to produce next year’s blooms.
• As your tulips start to shoot up, give them plenty of water.
• March to May is a good time to sow hardy annuals such as Ladybird Poppy, Nasturtiums, Love-in-a-Mist, Ammi majus, Cosmos, Calendula, Amaranthus, Tithonia or Zinnia.
• If your lawn looks mossy, scarify to remove the thatch. After a few weeks apply a spring lawn feed and weed.
• Start sowing hardy vegetable seeds outside and tender ones indoors. Check seed packets for the best way to sow them.
• As the soil warms, vine weevils start getting active. Look out for irregular notches in the leaf margins of plants. Containerised plants are particularly susceptible to vine weevil attacks. The adults look like black beetles and the grubs are a creamy colour with a small brown head and C shaped. If you see these, start using a biological control such as Nemasys Vine Weevil Killer. Avoid using pesticide controls as these can harm bees and other insects and they should most certainly not be used on edibles or ornamentals that are grown in the ground.


We are now well and truly into spring. There will be April showers but also beautiful sunny days and still a chance of some light frosts. The garden will really pick up the pace with lots of lush green growth and early blooms.
• Your lawn will be putting on growth so get the mower out and give it a cut. Do not set the mower too low.
• As the weather starts warming up, give newly planted trees and shrubs plenty of water.
• Keep weeding your borders.
• Look out for aphid infestations. Green and black fly will appear on stems and buds. These pests can be rubbed off with your fingers to avoid chemical use. Catch them early to prevent them breeding.
• Prune shrubs such as Sambucus nigra and Cotinus that are grown for their colourful foliage. The best colour foliage appears on news stems.
• Hard prune fuchsias, Caryopteris x clandonensis and Ceratostigma to a low framework.
• If you did not get round to planting bare-root or root-ball trees and shrubs, you can plant container-grown ones now.
• Roses can be sprayed with a recommended fungicide to control black spot. It is also worth growing varieties that are resilient to this fungal disease to prevent the need for spraying.
• Tie in the stems of climbing and rambling roses. The stems should be trained in a horizontal direction to encourage flowering side shoots along the whole length of the main stem.
• Cut back lavender, santolina and helichrysum. You can prune them quite hard but do not cut into old wood with no live shoots. Pruning helps to keep the plants compact.
• Finish dividing herbaceous perennials and continue to plant new ones.
• Continue to deadhead the spent blooms of daffodils.
• Plant summer-flowering bulbs and tubers such as oriental lilies and bearded iris outside and begonias indoors.
• Mow your lawn regularly, but not if it is wet, as this is not good for the mower and tears the blades of grass.
• Sow summer vegetable seeds such as leeks, peas, broad beans, beetroot, spring onions, lettuce, and radish outdoors.
• Sow tomatoes, French beans, and sweetcorn indoors
• Plant potatoes.
• Plant hardy herbs such as sage and rosemary outside. Mediterranean herbs like impoverished, free draining soil.
• Continue to keep an eye out for pests and diseases and treat them as soon as possible to prevent infestations. Vine weevil and white fly become a particular problem at this time of the year.
• Keep up with the weeding.
• Install a water butt to collect water. This will come in handy for watering through the summer months.

A tip for slugs and snails
Some gardeners have had success by watering their tender plants with a solution of garlic water. Boil some garlic cloves in water, then allow to cool. Mix a few tablespoons of this solution with water in a can and water your tender plants with this. The water can also be used in a sprayer bottle to sprays the leaves. Worth a try as it is chemical free.


It is RHS Chelsea Flower Show month, and a great time to source new design ideas and learn about plants from some of the top nurserymen and women at the event if you have tickets. As the warm weather arrives, gardeners are busy getting their gardens ready for the summer season.
• As well as visiting garden shows, it is also worth going to private gardens that open through the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Nothing like snooping around other people’s gardens to get ideas and purchase some new plants.
• Start replacing spring bedding with summer bedding. If your plants have been indoors, harden them off by placing them outside during the day, but protecting them at night with some fleece, for about ten days. This will help them get used to the outside temperatures.
• Create summer containers. Remember these can be planted with a mix of perennials and ornamental grasses, as well as annuals.
• Keep an eye on the weather as night frosts can still occur in May. If a frost is due, cover your tender plants and bedding with fleece.
• As the weather warms up make sure any of your established containers do not dry out.
• If you are creating summer containers, a great way of being water wise is to add some water saving gel crystals into the soil. These will retain the moisture and release it as and when your plants need it.
• The warmer weather increases the risk of pests and diseases. Continue to practice good hygiene by not letting dirt and decaying detritus accumulate anywhere in the garden and check the underside of plant leaves for pests that you can pick or wipe off. Try natural, biological methods of pest control whenever possible.
• Encourage predatory wildlife such as birds, frogs, and ladybirds into the garden to help manage pests.
• Regular hoeing will help to keep down weeds.
• Continue watering newly planted trees and shrubs. Do the same with your herbaceous perennials.
• Plant dahlias in the ground if they have put on sufficient growth. Remember to stake the taller varieties.
• Formal hedges can be lightly pruned but only if birds are not nesting in them. Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 protects nesting birds in hedges. It is illegal to trim your hedges during nesting bird season.
• Continue to stake and tie your taller perennials.
• Train and tie in the stems of climbers regularly.
• Continue to deadhead spring-flowering bulbs when the blooms have died back.
• Mow your lawn once a week.
• Continue to prick out and pot on seedlings that you sowed earlier in the season.
• Runner beans, French beans, and sweetcorn can be sown directly into the ground. Protect your seedlings from slug and snail damage as shoots emerge from the ground. Cut the base off clear plastic water bottles, and take the top off too, before placing them over emerging shoots.
• Water your planting borders thoroughly. It is better to give them a good drench rather than a dribble of water from a can. Avoid using sprayers and oscillators. Leave the hose at the roots and then move every so often. This way there will be less evaporation and the water goes directly to the roots where it is needed.
Photography credit is Anna Omiotek-Tott



It is the first month of summer. The garden has hit its peak, with lots of colour and blooms. The tasks are now about keeping the show going, but remember that while there is much to do, take time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
• Top up your borders with mulch if they need it. Do this after it has rained, or you have watered your borders. The mulch will help to conserve moisture in the soil.
• Water your containers well. The way to water them is to continue until you begin to see water coming out of the bottom.
• Continue to deadhead to encourage your plants to produce more blooms.
• If you find some gaps in your borders, fill them with annuals such as cosmos, nigella, zinnia, marigolds, or cleome.
• Spring bulb leaves will have gone yellow by now. These can be cut down and composted.
• Keep up with your weeding. You do not want to let them go to seed. They will also be competing with your plants for precious moisture in the ground.
• Carefully remove fading flowers from rhododendrons and camellias as the developing shoots are directly below them. Continue to give them plenty of water during prolonged dry spells.
• Remove suckering stems from roses at the root rather than cutting them off. These can be recognised by the different colour foliage and the stem will appear below the graft.
• Prune mature spring-flowering deciduous shrubs such as weigela, deutzia and philadelphus, removing dead or damaged stems. Then remove one in three of the older, thicker stems and lightly prune the remaining stems. Once pruned give them a feed with a general organic fertilizer.
• Start taking cuttings of herbaceous perennials.
• Plant cannas outdoors.
• Continue to plant summer bedding outside.
• Depending on the variety of crops you are growing; some may be starting to mature, ready for harvesting.
• Plant outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers, sweetcorn, and courgettes outside.
• Continue watering your borders and containers.
• Fruit trees must be kept well-watered for the fruit to develop properly.


It is high summer, and the garden is ablaze with colour and scent. The weather is often hot so if you are working in the garden then do it at an enjoyable leisurely pace. It is at this point in the season that you want to show off your garden by entertaining friends and family.
• During hot weather, garden during the cooler times of the day.
• Water in the evenings to reduce water evaporation. However, early morning watering discourages slugs, snails and mildew diseases as the soil stays drier for longer than evening watering.
• Early flowering plants will start going to seed. Leave some of the developing seedheads on so that you can collect it but deadhead the rest.
• Look out for pests and diseases and deal with them quickly. Diseased parts of plants should be removed immediately and burnt or put in the bin. Do not compost them.
• If you are going away on a summer holiday, ask a trusted person to look after your garden, do the watering and harvest any crops that are ready.
• If your lawn is turning brown due to drought, do not waste water on it as it will revive when rain returns. Save your water for more expensive plants such as newly planted trees and shrubs that need it more.
• Deadhead roses, especially repeat-flowering varieties, to encourage them to produce more buds and blooms.
• Conifer hedges can be trimmed to keep them compact if no birds are nesting in them.
• Prune whippy stems of wisteria back to six buds on a stem. This can be done between July and August.
• After flowering, overcrowded clumps of bearded iris can be lifted and the rhizomes divided. Dispose of the old pieces and keep the young rhizomes with some leaves attached to replant. Cut the faded leaves down to 15cm/6in from the rhizome and replant in groups of three or five so that half the rhizome is above the soil surface.
• Collect seeds of any of your herbaceous perennials when the seedheads rattle. Do this on a dry sunny day. Put the seeds into small paper envelopes. Label them with the name of the plant and the date you collected them. I find the children’s lunch money envelopes useful for this.
• Plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as Cyclamen hedrifolium, Nerine bowdenii, and colchicums.
• Keep deadheading your summer bedding to maintain the show.
• Continue to water your borders, containers, and edible crops.
• Pinch out the tops of runner bean plants when they reach the top of the support canes.
• Depending on the edibles you have grown, some crops will be ready for harvesting.


As summer slowly draws to an end, gardeners often find this a difficult month, as it can be hot, and many plants start to look past their best. However, continuing with routine tasks will prepare the way for a burst of autumn flowers, colour and seedheads to come forth in September.
• Continue weeding and watering.
• Deadhead repeat-flowering roses.
• Give lavenders a light trim with hand shears to remove all the old flower spikes and keep your plants compact. You can also take lavender cuttings.
• Towards the end of the month, give deciduous hedges their final trim of the year. Trim them with a slight taper, so that they are wider at the base and slightly narrower at the top, which will allow light to reach the lower stems.
• Prune rambling roses after they have flowered, if needed.
• Cut back any tall perennials that have flopped over.
• Take cuttings of penstemons and tender perennials.
• Continue planting autumn-flowering bulbs.
• Extend the flowering period of annuals by deadheading regularly. This prevents the plants from going to seed and encourages them to bloom into autumn.
• Harvest crops that are ready.
• This is the last month to sow salad crops such as lettuce, radish, and spring onions.
• Summer-prune trained fruit trees (cordons and espalier forms).
• Spring bulb catalogues will be out – start placing your orders.

Photography credit is Anna Omiotek-Tott



It is the first month of the autumn season. The days are beginning to get shorter as temperatures gradually fall, and the vibrant colours of autumn begin. With a freshness in the air, it is time to harvest your crops and start getting the garden ready for its winter slumber.
• Continue to keep a look out for pests and diseases. Good hygiene in the garden is still important.
• Keep up with your weeding.
• Summer bedding plants will soon be going over. Use these spaces in the garden for winter bedding and spring bulbs.
• If gardening on clay soil, it is a good time to dig the soil and add organic matter or lay mulches. The winter weather will then help to break down the lumps.
• There will be a fair bit of pruning, cutting back and leaf fall. It is a good time to think about composting if you do not have a compost bin already.
• Move evergreen shrubs if you need to while the soil is still warm and the roots can re-establish before the colder weather sets in.
• Prune climbing roses as the flowers start to fade. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood, and some of the old stems. Prune all the side shoots growing from the main framework down to two or three buds. Tie in stems growing from the base to their supports.
• Container-grown trees can be planted, although it would be better to wait until November when you can purchase bare root or root-balled trees as these will be slightly cheaper.
• Plant new perennials.
• Cut down perennials that have gone over and divide overcrowded clumps.
• Not all plants need to be cut down. Some have beautiful seedheads, including Phlomis russeliana, Nigella, Echinacea and Eryngium, that continue to provide interest in the garden and are beneficial to wildlife.
• Continue collecting seeds from your garden.
• Lift and pot up tender perennials and move to a sheltered area of the garden or a greenhouse if you have one.
• Reduce lawn mowing. Remove thatch from the turf and then aerate by pushing a fork into the ground to a depth of 15cm/6in.
• Give your lawn an autumn feed and weed to prepare it for winter. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
• When the rain returns, it is a good time to lay a lawn.
• Harvest your crops. Root vegetables can be lifted and stored.
• Sow winter lettuce varieties, which will be ready to harvest from January.


As the days get shorter this month, the autumn colour is at its best, with fiery shades of red orange and yellow lighting up the garden. In addition, there are hips, berries and seedheads that will attract birds.
• Give conifer hedges a trim. Trim them with a slight taper, so that they are wider at the base and slightly narrower at the top, which will allow light to reach the lower stems.
• Start preparing the ground for bare-root or root-ball trees or shrubs.
• After the first frost, lift dahlia and canna tubers. Cut the stems off, leaving just a few stubs and rinse off the soil. Leave to dry upside down. Then plant the tubers in pots of dry compost or wrap them in newspaper and put them in a crate. Store in a dry, frost-free place.
• Put any diseased plant material in the bin or burn it. Do not compost it.
• Rake up autumn leaves. Bag them in hessian sacks and wet them. Leave the sacks in a corner of the garden to break down and create leaf mould. If you want to put some in your compost bin, place them in small piles and run the mower over them to break them down.
• Certain varieties of tall shrubs can be pruned to lower the height, so they don’t catch the wind and rock in their planting holes. Check what autumn maintenance your varieties need.
• Aim to finish planting all spring-flowering bulbs except tulips.
• Continue to plant winter and spring containers.
• Reduce the number of times you mow the lawn now that grass growth is slowing down.
• Take hardwood cuttings.
• Begonia tubers should be lifted and stored.


It is the last month of autumn and while there may be little flower colour in the garden there are other things to admire. Stems, hips, berries, and the different shades of evergreen plants put on a performance, while the golden colours of ornamental grasses and seedheads, beautiful textures and patterns of tree bark and, of course, the last of the autumn foliage colours add to the spectacle.
• Plant trees and shrubs. These should be available as root-balled stock.
• Bare-root roses are now available. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for a minimum of 2 hours. If you can soak for 12 hours that is better. Prepare your planting hole. Make sure the planting hole is deep enough so the graft is buried two inches under the soil. Place your rose in the hole spreading the roots out gently. Then backfill with your soil and water your rose in thoroughly.
• Make sure that if you are planting large or top-heavy trees that they are well staked to prevent them from rocking in the ground. This is important if you live in a very windy area.
• Do some armchair gardening. Choose your seeds and get your orders in early.
• Continue to gather up fallen leaves. Make sure they are not sitting on the crowns of drought-loving perennials.
• Hedge planting can commence.
• Winter prune those deciduous tree and shrubs that need it.
• Tie long whippy stems of climbers to their supports.
• Plant hardy climbers.
• Protect tender plants with a thick layer of mulch around the base.
• Take root cuttings of perennials from now until late winter.
• Continue lifting and dividing overcrowded perennials.
• Plant tulip bulbs. If planting in clay soil, put some horticultural grit or gravel in each hole so that the bulbs do not end up sitting in water. If you have trouble with squirrels, dip your bulbs in chilli powder before planting them in the hole. As an added precaution cover them with chicken wire so they cannot dig them up.
• If you have left tender bulbs such as dahlias and nerines in the ground, place a thick layer of mulch over the roots for protection.
• Stop mowing lawns and do not walk on wet or frosted grass if possible.
• Check any stored bulbs and tubers and remove any showing signs of rotting.
• Start winter pruning apple and pear trees if they need it.
• Make sure all outdoor containers are lifted off the ground by placing them on pot feet, bricks, or tiles. This will allow water to drain and prevents waterlogging.

Photography credit is Anna Omiotek-Tott



Winter is here. Wrap up warm and carry out any repair and maintenance jobs that might be needed in the garden. December is the time to enjoy the jewels of morning dew on spiders’ webs and the ghostly silhouettes of trees and hedges just visible through the mist.
• Shake heavy snow off hedges, shrubs, and climbers, as the weight may damage the plants.
• Take time to plan next year’s garden displays.
• Check newly planted trees or shrubs to make sure they are secure in the ground and not rocking.
• Continue planting trees, shrubs, and climbers.
• Do not walk on lawns, especially if they are covered in frost or snow.
• If you have the space indoors, sow some early hardy crops which can then be planted outside in February.
• Service the lawn mower.
• Clean and maintain and sharpen your tools ready for next spring
• Once all the leaves have fallen, deciduous trees are dormant. It is a good time to carry out any pruning.


The garden is in its winter slumber but underneath that calm there is still activity going on and tasks to carry out.
• Practice good hygiene by washing seed trays and pots to prevent pests and diseases as the weather warms up.
• Clear fallen, decaying leaves from the tops of drought-loving herbaceous perennials and alpines. They can create damp conditions that could cause them to rot.
• Plant bare-root or root-ball trees and shrubs and move any hardy deciduous trees and shrubs.
• Plant hedging in well-prepared ground.
• Shake off snow from hedges, large shrubs, and evergreen climbers to prevent damage.
• Deadhead winter-flowering containers and give them a little water if the compost feels dry.
• If the dead foliage on your perennials are looking messy and mushy, chop them off to prevent any decay setting in and also to make way for new growth.
• Chop off the old leaves on Hellebores this will make way for the new growth, and you will be able to enjoy the blooms when they open. This also prevents the spread of disease.
• If you have Japanese acers, carry out any pruning where branches are crossing over and rubbing against each other. This needs to be done before the temperatures start warming up and the sap starts rising in the trees.
• If the temperatures threaten to really drop and there is danger of hard frosts, fleece tender plants or move those in containers into a sheltered area.
• Check stakes and ties on newly planted trees have not come loose. You want to make sure trees do not rock too much in the ground in windy conditions, as they will not establish.
• Winter prune apple and pear trees. This can be done at any time between November and early March.
• Keep off the lawn, especially if covered in snow or frost.


Despite the cold, activity in the garden is starting up again in February as the sap in plants starts to rise. It is the month to start doing some preparation work in the garden.
• Clean your garden tools.
• Continue to deadhead winter containers.
• Apply organic fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone, chicken pellets or seaweed meal, to your planting borders. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
• Continue to carry out tree, shrub, and hedge planting.
• Prune deciduous trees and shrubs to improve their health and shape. This should be done now before birds start nesting.
• Prune and shape hardy evergreen shrubs. Some can tolerate a hard prune but check what type of pruning yours needs before you begin.
• Late-flowering woody shrubs such as Buddleja, Cotinus, and some cotoneasters, pruning to a low framework of branches.
• Group 3 Clematis such as ‘Durandii’, ‘Polish Spirit’ and ‘Princess Diana’ should be pruned 30cm/12in above ground level to the two strongest buds. Keeping a note of your planting plan handy, as different clematis varieties need different care.
• Group 2 are the large-flowering types that bloom before July such as ‘Nelly Moser’, ‘The President’ and ‘Picardy’. These should be cut hard in their first season. On established plants, follow the stems down from the top and cut just above a pair of strong, fresh buds. Do not prune hard as you will remove the flowers. Cut out any weak or damaged stems.
• Jasmines can also be pruned but do check the pruning technique for the variety you have.
• Plant hardy climbers.
• Pot up dahlia tubers indoors. Water sparingly until shoots appear. Then you can gradually increase the watering as growth progresses.
• Plant snowdrops in the green.
• Sow seeds of hardy annuals and early edible crops.
• Spread mulch on your borders.
• Give wisteria its second prune. The stems that you pruned in July or August should be cut back to 3 buds per stem.

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