Gardening Tasks to Complete for UK Gardeners in January 

By  Enda

This is our January guide, that suggests which gardening tasks, you should consider doing in the month of January. Well as you would know, January is a cold and wet winter month. It is also a time when the soil is exposed to frost and snow. Frost is in fact a good soil conditioner, especially for clay.

If possible and the weather is dry, then January is a great time for digging. If you can get the soil turned over in this month, then it will make your life easier in the Spring. It also gives the soil a chance to reconsolidate before it is sowing and planting time.

UK weather in January

The actual gardening that can be completed in the UK really does depend a lot on the weather. January does have some of the coldest nights in the year. Inland areas will be a lot colder than coastal areas. In some years the Western coast of the UK can be unusually mild, and gardens in many of our cities, are usually 1-2 degrees warmer than in the country areas.

The weather also varies quite a bit across the various areas of the UK. Scotland is the most northern part and is the coldest. It is also prone to very strong winds and snow. Light snow, for the most part does not cause a great deal of damage to a garden. It also usually passes very quickly.

However, heavy snow falls, simply by their weight can cause branches to break, and damage items such as fruit cases and some patio furniture. The best you can do is to knock build-ups of snow off trees and shrubs.

Just below we have attached a chart that shows the average rainfall in January in the UK.

uk gardening tasks for january
average rainfall in january in the UK

From this you can see that rainfall does vary quite a lot. The average rainfall is about 86mm. (3.5") The bottom line is that working outdoors in January is very problematical, due to the weather. Anyone living in a southern or coastal area may be able to grab a few days here and there.

What Gardening Tasks Should You Have in Your Plan?

There are some good general guidelines that we would like to offer for all gardeners in the month of January. We have listed these below, and we do hope that you find them very useful. There are some good general guidelines that we would like to offer for all gardeners in the month of January.

We have listed these below, and we do hope that you find them very useful.

Indoor Work - Get Your Lists Together

When it is simply too unpleasant to work outdoors, then working indoors, or in a heated greenhouse if you have one, can allow you to do many things.

This is a good time to start thinking about your lists. Order some seed and bulb catalogues and start to read though those. At this time of the new year, you can start to make a list of seeds that you will need for the year. You can then get those ordered and have them ready for the seed planting time indoors. Often these take a few weeks to arrive, so always nice to be ahead of the game.

This is also a good time to order any types of bulbs, seedlings, evergreen trees, conifers and shrubs. These will not be ready until Spring time, but when they arrive, they can be planted out sometime between March to April, so ordering them early, or at least thinking about what you want, gives you some useful planning time.

Pots Trays and Compost

For us this task is actually a bit of a feel good factor. If you have done any gardening in the previous years, we have little doubt that there will be pots, seed trays etc all laying around. January is a very good month to wash and disinfect any old trays and pots. It is also a good month to buy new ones as the gardening centres are usually quiet at this time of the year. When you are there, you can also get in seed and planting compost.

Unless you have some type of heated area or equipment, January is just too early to start sowing. However, you could start to make your labels, and start to get organised.

Treat Your Tools

This is a very good time to take care of your tools. That includes all of your manual tools such as spades, forks, rakes and shears. All they will really need is a good clean and if required some oil.

With wooden shafts, you can sandpaper any rough parts and then treat them to some linseed oil and a wax polish which will add years to its life.

It is also a good time to check cables on electric tools such as lawnmowers, hedge clippers and strimmers. Likewise you an also clean and oil these and get them set up for the gardening year.

If you have any petrol gardening tools, then again clean and oil those. It is also worth checking spark plugs, topping up oil and decarbonising engines if necessary.

Steel blades should be cleaned and any rust removed by using some form of rust remover. Once that is done then lightly rub those down with a light machinery oil.

Complete Garden Woodwork

Most of us will have garden fences, posts, decks, trellises and stakes around the garden. As long as you are sure of a couple of dry days, then this is the perfect time to apply some preservative. There are plenty of these around and they are not expensive.

cleaning and oiling tools in january

The UK Flower Garden in January

During this frosty period, check that soil has not started to lift up around autumn planted stock. If it has then firm that soil down at the time, and before it gets wet again.

Protect the growing tips of bulbs from any slugs or snails.

January is a very good time to make or remake flower beds and any borders you may have. You can work in organic manure and slow working fertilisers such as bone meals and seaweed powder.

When the ground remains hard with frost you can clear herbaceous borders with any dead growth. You can then top those up with well rotted manure or compost.

Cover plants such as peonies, delphiniums, and daisies with peat or bark. January is also a good time to pull out and get rid of weeds.

january gardens UK

The Vegetable Garden in January

January is considered to be a quiet gardening month, especially when it comes to a vegetable garden. This is therefore a good time to plan out your crop rotation.

You never want to grow the same type of vegetable families in the same ground year after year. Two years is about the most you should do that. The reason is that it reduces the risk of pest and diseases who like to go after a certain type of vegetable crop.

Onions, rhubarb and herbs are the exception to that, but to be honest, it also does no harm to rotate those every few years either.

We would recommend a bed for onions, and then a bed for vegetables such as peas, beans, leeks, celery and lettuce.

Another bed can be used for cabbage, sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. Finally another bed can be used for potatoes and the other root vegetables.

The Fruit Garden in January

January is a good month to plant what are called stone fruits. These are fruits such as cherry, apricot, damson, plum and peaches.

You do have to keep an eye on the weather to make sure it is warm enough so later in January would be the earliest time. Just remember fruit trees need very good drainage.

This is also a good time for winter spraying of fruit. You can also complete winter pruning of apple and pear trees.

January is also a great time to clear up fallen leaves, and any other garden debris. You can also clear strawberry beds at this time and get rid of unwanted runners. Applying some pear or compost to the bed is also a very good idea.

Birds do start to become pretty active, so make sure any buds are protected.

January Garden Summary

The weather is really the big deciding factor in January. With heavy snow falls or ice you may be limited as to what you can actually do.

Rain can also play a major part making gardens heavy. With milder weather you may also get growth, and a lot of weeds. All you can do is adjust your work load to what you can actually do.

Rain can also be a big problem in the month of January. It is worth checking the various areas of your garden where you may get puddles. That way you will know where the problem areas are, and consider digging in some drainage in the drier months ahead.


I am someone who enjoys a little gardening. Now I am not someone who spend hours in the garden, but I do like both my front and back gardens to look really nice. Well kept lawns, neatly trimmed hedges, and borders filled with plants, make a huge difference, to how your property looks.

Enda McLarnon

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