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The coldest month

Birds on a feeder. Credit:

In January, your garden could need protecting from frosts, gale-force winds and heavy rain. Check stakes, ties, fleeces and other supports for damage and consider moving plants to sunnier positions to maximize light. Don't forget to keep feeding the birds, food is scarce for them over winter.

Top 10 jobs this month

  1. Recycle your Christmas tree by shredding it for mulch

  2. Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days

  3. Dig over any vacant plots that have not been dug already

  4. Repair and re-shape lawn edges

  5. Inspect stored tubers of Dahlia, Begonia and Canna for rots or drying out

  6. Prune apple and pear trees

  7. Start forcing rhubarb

  8. Plan your vegetable crop rotations for the coming season

  9. Keep putting out food and water for hungry birds

  10. Prepare a polythene shelter for outdoor peaches and nectarines, to protect them from peach leaf curl

Monthly Advice

Things to do in the garden this month:

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This is a wet time of year in many parts of the UK, with all areas experiencing a winter peak in precipitation.

Eastern Scotland generally receives around 116mm in January, which is similar to the overall UK average.

Western Scotland, can expect more in the region of 180mm, although 250mm is not at all unusual at this time of year.

East Anglia, as usual, is one of the driest regions, expecting a mean of around 50mm rainfall in January.

Northern England can expect about 90mm, SW England and Northern Ireland can expect 120mm, the Midlands, the South and the SE of England about 80mm, and Wales (overall) around 150mm.

Obviously, it is the hills and any coastal regions that will receive the bulk of the rain in these regional averages.


Average hours of sunshine across the UK for this month on a region-by-region basis are:

53 hours in East Anglia, southern and South East England,
48 hours in the Midlands, SW England and southern Wales,
45 hours in northern England and northern Wales,
44 hours in Northern Ireland,
41 in eastern Scotland,
38 hours in western Scotland and
27.5 hours in Northern Scotland.

This lack of light limits growth of plants in greenhouses, conservatories and windowsills. Moving them to a sunnier position over the winter is advised.

The shorter days at this time of year can induce flowering in some plants, such as poinsettias and chrysanthemums.


As the coldest month of the year, this is a challenging time for plants that are not quite hardy in the UK, especially if the extra chill persists for more than the occasional night and if the soil freezes.

Inland areas and areas of low ground are the coldest, with valleys becoming potential frost pockets. Coastal areas are usually milder.


Gale-force winds are a problem for the UK in January. The northern half of the UK is usually worst affected, particularly towards the western coastal regions, where gales can be severe.

Areas of higher ground and coastal fringes usually receive the worst of the winds. Combined with rain, this makes for unpleasant conditions.

Your garden needs protection just as you do - stakes, ties, fleece wraps, cloches, supports and wayward branches will all need regular checking for damage. Plants can suffer from wind rock at the roots, which will affect their health and vigour the following spring.