What to do in the garden in January


  • Prevent the soil around root vegetables from freezing by covering the soil around with fleece or a thin layer of straw.  
  • Dig empty beds to break up the soil and allow the frost to do the rest. Digging over the soil also uncovers pests to hungry birds and wildlife, which will help to keep pest populations under control.
  • Pick brussels, sprouts, spinach, beet, cabbages and savoys. Also, if frost permits you can lift celery, leeks, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes as required.
  • Check vegetables that were stored in autumn, because they can easily become infested with pests or rot. Be careful, as mold can spread to the rest of the stored crop.
  • Start planning your vegetable plot.
  • Adopt crop rotation method if you have grown vegetables in the same area earlier. You should not grow the same type of vegetable in the same ground for more than two years. This will prevent the build-up of pests and diseases in the soil that can attack a particular group of vegetables.
  • Finish digging over remaining vegetable plot. This will give the soil time to be broken up by the weather, so that it can be cultivated easily in the spring. This will save time and effort at sowing time.
  • Start off French beans for forcing, early maturing cauliflowers and onions. Lettuce sown now can also provide a late spring crop.
  • Force rhubarb outdoors in January. Cover the crowns with straw, bracken or leaves and place a large clay forcing pot over the top. Rhubarb needs rich soil if it is to give you a regular crop forcing can reduce the vigor of the plant. Feed the plant with Ecoworm Soil Extract for Vegetables in the spring.
  • Remove yellowing leaves from winter brassicas – they are of no use to the plant and can harbor pests and diseases.
  • Enjoy fresh herbs by digging a small piece of mint, thyme or a marjoram root, pot it in a warm place indoors. Fresh shoots will soon appear.
  • Prepare the ground for early peas. Place a cloche over the soil this month, to help warm up the ground for a few weeks before sowing.


  • Examine apples and pears stored over the winter. If you see any signs of deterioration, remove them immediately. Take out the ripening ones, as they will only spoil if left.
  • Prune autumn fruiting raspberries by cutting back all the canes to just above ground level.
  • Prune fruit trees.
  • Check tree stakes.
  • Plant bare root trees and bushes.


  • Sharpen the blades of your mowers so they are in a good shape before the new season starts.
  • Brush off any remaining leaves and other debris, which will remove the risk of weeds and prevent invading moss from gaining a foothold.
  • Avoid walking on the lawn when it is frosty, as this will crush the blades of grass, and result in them going black.
  • Improve drainage by spiking water-logged areas with a hand fork. Do not fill any depressions at this time, as these should be built up with several light applications of sifted soil at intervals during the growing season.
  • Aerate lawns on heavy clay or compacted soil, as they can become water-logged at this time of the year. Spike the soil with a special hollow tined fork or a garden fork, at 15-20cm intervals. Sprinkle a little coarse sand on any wet and muddy patches.


  • Plant bare root trees, roses and shrubs now if the weather is mild. Avoid doing it if the ground is frozen or waterlogged. For planting choose a spot with well-drained soil, give the plants a good soaking, by submerging in a bucket of water and Ecoworm Soil Extract for an hour, and cut off any damaged roots with sharp secateurs. Place the plant just beneath the soil about 2.5cm down. Once planted cut out any dead, weak or damaged wood from the plant. If you are planting a bush rose, prune the stems hard back to three or four buds from the base. Make the cut just above an outward pointed bud.
  • Leave plums, cherries and apricots alone until the summer – pruning them now will only make them susceptible to silver-leaf infections.
  • Stake the trees and tall shrubs to save them from suffering from cold and severe winds. To avoid damaging the roots, drive the stake in at an angle with the top pointing into the prevailing wind.
  • Protect bushy shrubs, young evergreens and small conifers by surrounding them with a new windbreak.
  • Shake off any heavy snow that falls on trees and shrubs, especial if they are evergreens and conifers, this will stop branches from pulling out of shape or breaking them. Light snowfalls are best left on all plants because the snow will act as a blanket against cold.


  • Sow half-hardy annuals under cover.
  • Tidy up beds and borders.
  • Plant lily bulbs. If the bulbs have become shriveled in storage, pack them in trays filled with damp compost, leaving them to swell before planting.
  • Check stored bulbs dahlia tubers and gladiolus corms that have been stored away for winter. Remove any bulbs and corms that are going rotten or show signs of mold and cut off any damaged tubers from dahlias. Make sure they got enough protection by recon bring them with dry compost or straw.
  • Prune wisterias by cutting back summer side shots to 2 or 3 buds.
  • Prune rose bushes as they are still dormant. Cut back to just above a bud and remove any crossing or dead branches.
  • Remove the dead foliage of dormant perennials and cut away any decayed vegetation, as it can provide a hiding place for slugs and pests.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses. Cut back to within a few centimeters of the ground before new growth begins.
  • Deadhead winter pansies. Remove any faded flowers from your inter pansies to stop them set seed.    
  • Cut back willows. Trim damaged, diseased and the oldest stems and thin out overcrowded stems.
  • Tidy up perennials. Cut down the old stems of perennial plants like sedum.

Read more:
What to do in the garden in December
What to do in the garden in February