There’s nothing like some time in the garden to clear your head and get the blood moving. Fresh, cool air will wake you up and get you thinking positively, and your garden will benefit.
Removing damp, clogged up leaves from the lawn with a spring-tined rake will prevent patches of faded grass and is good for upper arm muscles! Collect and bag up the leaves and rot them down to make leaf mould, a brilliant and free soil conditioner.
If the soil in cleared areas is sufficiently dry, fork it over to help the frosts break up heavier clay soils. Any exposed grubs and other soil pests will feed the birds and minimise pest problems next year.
Get some digging done if the soil is not too wet, but limber up first. Keeping your back straight and your knees bent helps to reduce the risk of injury.
Winter is a good time to prune apple and pear trees. Use sharp secateurs to remove dead, dying and diseased branches, as well as branches causing the tree’s crown to be too congested.
Re-set any loose brick or similar edging around paths, beds or steps, and replace any damaged stones, pavers or bricks.
Carefully clear debris, dead foliage and stems from flower beds, but leave some dry foliage and stems over the bases or crowns of plants, especially those of the more tender perennials such as penstemons.
Smooth, hard garden surfaces such as patios, paths and steps become dangerously slippery if algae and debris builds up on them over the winter, especially when wet. A stiff brush or yard broom and plenty of elbow grease is the best solution.
Wet and very windy weather can cause shrubs and trees to become loosened in the soil, so re-firm the soil around the root
area and make sure the plant is still in the soil at the right level.
You’re bound to feel better after all that air and exercise, so reward yourself with a cuppa and admire your handiwork before heading inside for a nice hot bath!
After too much time inside, and in cold weather, take care before you spring into action:
• Wear plenty of clothing when you go outside and remove layers gradually as you warm up.
• Limber up gently to slowly loosen up your arms, legs and back.
• Don’t do any single task for too long – rotate the jobs for perhaps ten minutes at a time, so you don’t put any one area of your body under too much strain.
• Give yourself regular, short breaks and don’t forget to drink enough.
• Bend your knees when lifting and if in doubt call on a friend, relative or neighbour to give you a hand.