Once the garden starts to warm up, young trees will surge back into growth. Make sure you tie back new shoots to prevent them being damaged by high winds, and to stop them causing damage if they are whipped around by gales.
Climbers and rambling roses will also be taking off now, so make sure you also tie them in to whatever supports they have in place. As well as keeping them intheir allotted space, this lets you train them in the desired shape and direction.
Growing trees and shrubs need feeding as they come back into growth. Give them a balanced fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone or Growmore now, especially ifthey are young, weak-looking or were recently hard pruned. This should give them several months of nutrition.
It also pays to pile a layer of mulch around the root areas of plants to help the soil hold on to moisture as the weather potentially gets drier in late spring and summer.
Don’t let any mulch touch the trunks of trees and shrubs as it can dampen and soften the bark, leaving it prone to rotting and cankers.
Check that tree ties are securely fastened and not too tight because this can cause them to bite into the bark, constricting the flow of sap and creating an entry point for pests and disease.
They should be tied in a figure-of- eight, to act as a buffer between the tree and its supporting stake, and should be tight enough to support but loose enough to allow some movement.
Five-minute tree jobs
Step 1. Clear the planting area of weeds and debris, and dig a hole as deep as and slightly wider than the tree’s container rootball.
Step 2. Fork up the bottom and sides of the hole to help the roots spread and add some well-rotted manure or compost.
Step 3. After standing the tree in water for as long as possible, slide it from its container and gently tease out any circling roots.
Step 4. Place it in the hole. Holding it straight, infill with soil and compost. Tread down the ground to firm it in and support the tree.
Step 5. Add a stake and secure the tree using a rubber tie. Make sure it does not chafe the bark and lets the tree move in the wind.
Step 6. Water well and add a 3in (7cm) layer of mulch. Don’t let your tree dry out, keep its root area weeded and watch for pests.
More timely tasks
■ Cut out all-green stems from variegated shrubs before they spread and spoil the whole plant
■ Deal with sap-feeding pests such as aphids that can damage flower buds and new shoots. Remove them by hand before you need to use a chemical.
■ Remove frost-damaged shoots from evergreens.
■ Mulch rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas and don’t let them dry out as this can impair flowering.