Winter maintenance

Pruning hedgeWhen putting lawnmowers and hedgetrimmers away for the winter, ensure that they are clean and dry before storing. Also remember to drain out any fuel first, as unleaded petrol doesn't keep, and may cause problems next year when trying to start up the machines.

You may want to send all machines in for a service while they are in less frequent use.

Ensure all standpipes and irrigation lines are drained, to avoid damage caused by water freezing inside them.

Clean and sharpen secateurs ready for pruning deciduous trees and shrubs over the winter. Special ceramic tools are available to allow awkwardly shaped and angled blades to be sharpened with ease. Spare springs and replacement blades can also be purchased for more expensive models.

Be aware that decking and stone slabs can become slippery in wet weather, with slimy algal growth exacerbating the situation. Chicken wire stapled onto the decking, temporary mats, and regular cleaning with Jeyes Fluid or Armillatox can all help to reduce the risk of harm.

Clean out water butts if not yet done. They will then be free to catch the extra rainfall at this time of year. Water butt are back in stock after the surge in demand this year and now is the ideal time to install extra ones.

Installation work

Constructing a pondNow is a good time to consider installing garden lighting, water pipes and drainage, and to make plans for garden projects.

Fix lights to sheds, greenhouses and outhouses, so that you can garden on wet days and in the evenings. It is now illegal for amateurs to hardwire new fixtures into the mains, but many lighting kits are available which plug into house circuits, and include appropriate armoured cables.

Garden contractors are often short of work in winter, and are therefore available to do major tasks such as paving, fence building and pond digging.

Gardeners' calendar

Find out what to do this month with our gardeners' calendar

Advice from the RHS

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.