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Top Tips

Our Top Tips will suggest ways in which you can improve what you do in your garden from growing vegetables and flowers, to maintaining your lawn and installing a pond!

To see our top tips simply click the relevant month below:

January

Garlic

Garlic is a key ingredient in much of our cooking and nothing beats the flavour of a home-grown crop. It needs a long growing season in the UK so the key to success is early planting, between November and the New Year.

Takes: 1 Hour

Flowers

  • Plant Bare-root Roses in Well-Prepared Ground
  • Trim Away Unwanted Suckers from Tree Bases
  • Clear Borders & Rake Up Leaves

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Spread a Thick Layer of Mulch Around Fruit Trees & Bushes
  • Plant Fruit Bushes, Trees & Canes into Enriched Soil
  • Prune Blackcurrants

Greenhouse

  • Collect fruits/berries from cotoneaster and pyracantha
  • Check stored bulbs and tubers for signs of rot
  • Bring potted strawberries into the greenhouse

Around the Garden

  • Cover soil with cloches or sheets of polythene
  • Place a ball in a pond to prevent it fully freezing over
  • Take your petrol mower to a dealer for maintenance

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February

Grow Dahlias from Seed

Colourful dahlias make a welcome addition to the late-summer garden and will continue to flower until the first frost. While many dahlias are grown from tubers planted in May, you can also raise them from seed.

Takes: 20 Minutes

Flowers

  • Deadhead winter-flowering pansies and bedding plants
  • Divide congested herbaceous perennials
  • Prune winter jasmine to cut back flowered shoots

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Cover soil with cloches to warm it for early sowings
  • Finish winter pruning fruit trees and soft fruits
  • Cut stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level

Greenhouse

  • Plant summer bulbs
  • Maintain frost-free conditions
  • Bring pots of spring bulbs into the greenhouse

Around the Garden

  • Knock heavy snow off shrubs and conifers
  • Place rabbit guards around trees to protect bark
  • Firm down plants lifted by frost or wind rock

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March

Raise New Mint Plants

If you're already dreaming about sipping a cool mint julep in your summer garden, now's the time to get your mint plants ready for the job. Take cuttings from established mint plants to keep the drinks tray supplied all summer.

Takes: 30 Minutes

Flowers

  • Plant lilies in large patio pots for summer displays
  • Prune shrub roses to low new shoots
  • Cut overgrown honeysuckle stems close to their base

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Grow early-maturing potatoes in a bag of compost
  • Fork compost into beds to prepare soil for planting
  • Chit potatoes

Greenhouse

  • Sow cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers
  • Water compost with a suitable pesticide
  • Sow summer bedding plants

Around the Garden

  • Plan your seed-sowing year
  • Trim lawn edges to keep the area neat and tidy
  • Apply residual path weedkillers

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April

Pinch Out Fuchsias

Ensure bushy growth and masses of flower, by pinching out the tips of fuchsia regularly. This encourages side shoots and strengthens the growth to support the weight of summer flowers. Pinch out three or four times from spring to early summer for best results.

Takes: 5 Minutes Per Plant

Flowers

  • Plant out perennials in groups of three, five or seven
  • Sprinkle fertiliser around clumps of tulips
  • Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Sow sweetcorn in deep modular seed trays
  • Feed fruit trees and bushes
  • Plant out onion sets grown in pots under glass

Greenhouse

  • Buy plug plants and young bedding plants
  • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines
  • Sow annual climbers

Around the Garden

  • Remove winter grime from patios with a pressure washer
  • Sow new lawns
  • Snip plain green shoots off variegated shrubs

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May

Plant Runner Beans

Runner beans make one of the easiest and most rewarding summer crops. Planted now they'll romp away in the warm soil and, with plenty of moisture at the roots, they'll quickly twine up their support to produce masses of succulent pods that taste much better than any out-of-season beans in a supermarket.

Takes: 40 Minutes

Flowers

  • Plant up hanging baskets
  • Plant out potted alliums to add interest to flower beds
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after flowering

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Tie in new shoots of blackberries and cane fruits to support wires
  • Sow sweetcorn in deep pots
  • Pinch off strawberry runners as soon as they develop

Greenhouse

  • Put up shading to reflect scorching sunlight
  • Open all vents on warm days
  • Order plug plants and seedlings by post

Around the Garden

  • Plant tender crops outside
  • Dig out perennial weeds
  • Wash dust off the foliage of houseplants

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June

Plant a Summer Hanging Basket

Follow our simple recipe and step-by-step advice to create this beautiful summer hanging basket. The risk of frost is behind us, so you can plant it up right now and put it straight outside. Don't worry if you can't get the exact plants we show here, as there'll be plenty of similar things at your local nursery or garden centre. If you get cracking now you'll have a stunning display in just a few weeks.

Takes: 30 Minutes

Flowers

  • Remove suckers the stems of standard roses
  • Tie tall border plants like delphiniums to their supports
  • Finish planting out dahlias, cannas and summer bedding

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Finish planting out veg crops
  • Sow summer salads in guttering to grow quick crops
  • Use netting to protect developing and ripening fruits from birds 

Greenhouse

  • Water crops in growing bags and pots daily
  • Introduce biological controls if you have discovered pests
  • Pinch out developing sideshoots on tomato ste

Around the Garden

  • Gradually lower the cutting height of your mower
  • Spray roses showing signs of diseases
  • Apply a combined weed, feed and mosskiller to your lawn

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July

Summer Prune Apple Trees

To give yourself the biggest apple crops from established trees, it's time to tackle summer pruning of spur-fruiting varieties. This encourages the development of short flowering shoots or 'spurs' that go on to bear clusters of fruit. Summer pruning is also ideal for keeping trees in shape.

Takes: 50 Minutes for Medium-Sized Tree

Flowers

  • Pick bulbils from lily stems and pot up for new plants
  • Give shrubs and perennial plants a liquid feed
  • Cut down delphiniums once flower spikes fade

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Pick gooseberries when ripe
  • Prune bay trees to keep them in shape
  • Spray apples and gooseberries with a fungicide

Greenhouse

  • Hang up sticky yellow traps to catch whitefly and flying insects
  • Propagate houseplants
  • Repot any plants that are pot bound or getting top heavy

Around the Garden

  • Pick herbs, lavender and everlasting flowers
  • Be on the lookout for developing pest problems
  • Dig out problem lawn weeds or treat with weedkiller

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August

Take Rosemary Cuttings

Summer's here and the barbecues are lit, so now's the time to be plundering your herb garden for added flavour.

Takes: 30 Minutes

Flowers

  • Save seed from ornamental annual quaking grass
  • Water camellias regularly
  • Summer prune wisteria, shortening long sideshoots

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Harvest young marrows but leave some to fully ripen
  • Pinch out the tops of outdoor tomatoes
  • Plant out rooted strawberry runners into new beds

Greenhouse

  • Feed tomatoes in growing bags and pots
  • Plant nerines, lachenalia and veltheimia bulbs in pots
  • Take leaf cuttings from begonias and Cape primroses

Around the Garden

  • Prepare soil ready for sowing a lawn or laying turf during September and October
  • Top up water levels in pebble fountains and pools
  • Deal with problem lawn weeds

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September

Plant Hyacinths in a Pot

The sweet smell of hyacinths is one that lifts the spirit as a sure sign that winter has finally come to an end. Hyacinth bulbs are widely available in a broad spectrum of colours. Whatever their shade, they look spectacular planted on their own in a rustic terracotta pot. It's a quick and easy job with stunning rewards in spring.

Takes: 30 Minutes

Flowers

  • Take cuttings from pansies and violas
  • Pot up tender perennials grown outside
  • Prune rambling roses after flowering

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Finish summer pruning trained apple and pear trees
  • Harvest apples, pears, plums and gages as they ripen
  • Save seeds from varieties of beans, herbs and tomatoes

Greenhouse

  • Line greenhouses with bubble polythene
  • Clean staging and capillary matting to use next year
  • Bring tender agapanthus and eucomis under cover

Around the Garden

  • Collect, wash and store away canes and plant supports
  • Improve drainage on compacted lawns
  • Cut hedges to keep them neat, and control their size

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October

Layer Bulbs in a Pot

If you long for a splash of spring colour to bring you out of the winter gloom, you'll want a display that will go on for as long as possible. Plant layers of different varieties of bulbs in one pot and you can create an impressive spring display that will flower for weeks.

Takes: 45 Minutes

Flowers

  • Plant out spring bedding
  • Pot up tender perennials from summer displays
  • Prune rambling and climbing roses

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Keep harvesting root veg such as beetroot and carrots
  • Order fruit trees and bushes
  • Finish picking beans, but leave a few pods to ripen

Greenhouse

  • Plant winter salads in growing bags
  • Check heaters are working efficiently
  • Clean staging and wash capillary matting

Around the Garden

  • Prune suckers away from the base of ornamental trees
  • Collect watering equipment to store in the shed
  • Protect glazed pots from frost damage

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November

Improve Your Soil

Plants need good soil conditions if they are to give the best results. Improving the soil with plenty of organic matter in the form of compost helps drainage and aeration on heavy soils and conserves essential moisture on light ones.

Takes: 10 Minutes Per m2

Flowers

  • Take root cuttings of oriental poppies
  • Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers
  • Move containers of shrubs or bedding to a sheltered spot

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Dig over empty borders and pile manure on top
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
  • Cut down asparagus ferns and Jerusalem artichoke tops

Greenhouse

  • Clear out old tomato and cucumber cordons
  • Move potted bulbs into the greenhouse to develop
  • Water sparingly for as dry an atmosphere as possible

Around the Garden

  • Wash and disinfect bird feeders and tables
  • Collect fallen leaves and add to a leaf bin to compost down
  • Spread fresh gravel or grit around alpine plants

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December

Nesting Box

A nesting box is a great way of attracting birds into your garden in the spring and summer. It not only gives you the pleasure of watching them but also gives the birds a home close to plenty of garden insects to feast upon. Well constructed, the box should last for years and provide a cosy home for generations of birds.

Flowers

  • Prune wisteria sideshoots to 10-15cm from their base
  • Rake up fallen leaves that could be sheltering slugs
  • Cut down dead perennials

Fruit & Vegetables

  • Winter prune apple trees
  • Prune away stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries
  • Prepare sites to plant new fruit trees and bushes

Greenhouse

  • Follow weather forecasts to set the right heating levels
  • Prune both indoor and outdoor vines
  • Dig up rhubarb, pot up, and place in total darkness

Around the Garden

  • Clean and sharpen pruning tools
  • Repair and treat fencing and timber structures
  • Bring all watering equipment indoors

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© 2011 St.Peters Garden Centre