Jobs for January

Keep the garden looking its best this month by planting up pots of winter-flowering bulbs, pruning dormant shrubs to tidy them and cleaning tools and pots so you're ready for spring.

1 Make cuttings of cornus stems: Select a stem that grew last summer and cut it from the base of the shrub. Trim the stem into sections each about 15cm long, with a bud at each tip. Use a sloping cut to shed the rain (it will help you remember which way is up). Trim the base of each cutting squarely across the bottom just under a bud or pair of buds. Plant them out into a narrow trench on a mild day when the soil isn't frozen. Place each stem about 15cm apart with one third of the stem sticking out about the soil level.  Cover over to close the trench.

2 Avoid walking on the lawn: During frosty weather it's best to keep off the lawn as walking on it can damage the grass and leave brown footprint-shaped marks. The grass will grow at temperatures above 5C (41F) so you may still need to mow the lawn during a warm spell.

3 Feed the birds: Garden birds rely on us more and more to support them through the winter with supplementary feeding. Top up bird feeders with nuts and oil-rich sunflower seeds. Use a fat ball dispenser to feed them fat-rich suet snacks; the green mesh bags can trap their feet.

4 Winter-prune wisteria: To get the best flowers wisteria need cutting back twice a year and January is the ideal time to give them their winter prune. Cut back all the stems from this year's growth to two to three buds, except where you need growth to extend the framework of branches to cover the support.  

5 Clean pots and trays: If you've got a big pile of dirty plastic pots lurking in your potting shed now's the time to address them. Fill a large bucket or plastic true with warm soapy water and use a pot scrub to loosen the dirt. Rinse with running water. 

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