The long nights are getting shorter now, and it is time to look forward to Spring 2018.

The borders and lawns will have taken a battering after the winter weather, so now is the time to give your plants the boost that they need to give them a head start and promote healthy growth.

Depending upon when the warmer weather arrives, you should start to cut the lawn when the grass starts to grow again, usually in March.

Apply a moss killer following the instructions on the packet, but do not be tempted to add more than the recommended amount. A good way to green up the lawn is to apply iron sulphate (10 g per m2) as a fertilizer. This has the added advantage of killing the moss, and will give the lawn a good boost.

Sort out the lawn edges now, and reseed bare patches. Do not mow your naturalised bulbs in the lawn. These will need a feed with an all-round fertilizer like Growmore, Vitax or Osmocote during/after flowering so that the bulbs can bulk up ready for flowering in Spring 2019.

Winter rain leaches nutrients out of the soil, so put these back by sprinkling fertilizer (listed above) over the borders. Follow the instructions on the packet, and do not over-feed or you may burn/kill your plants.

Many perennials can be divided now. This promotes healthy growth, and gives the thrifty gardener more plants for the borders or to give away.

I am afraid that the weeds have started to germinate. You know what to do! While you are busy weeding, watch out for slugs nibbling new shoots, particularly of delphiniums and lupins, although slugs are not fussy when it comes to the first green shoots of spring.

If you have not finished clipping your hedges over the winter, then quickly get this job done now. It is illegal to disturb nesting birds, and spring is just around the corner, so if you leave it too late, you will be waiting until June to get this job finished.

Jobs to do in the veggie plot include digging over vacant plots, pruning fruit trees, forcing rhubarb and chitting potatoes. If you still have some time, tidying the shed/greenhouse and washing out pots and seed trays will keep those pests and diseases at bay.

Caroline Aldridge