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Weekend Work: Time to get pruning

What to do

Eucalyptus can be stooled back now too if you want to grow it as a bush, rather than a tree. This means that you keep the juvenile rounded foliage on tap, rather than letting the tree develop the longer leaves of adulthood.

Big, leafy fatshedera can get along without regular pruning, but where it is too big for its boots, you can bring it to heel by pruning back the lateral shoots, those that spring from the main branches.

For a neat, hedge-like look, clip ivy growing on walls or fences. Do it with shears, not secateurs. You can clip right back to the clinging stems. The ivy will look naked for a while, but soon there will be new foliage, tight and tidy against its support. If you can be bothered to brush out old dead leaves as well, the effect will be even better.

Prune late summer flowering shrubs such as caryopteris, cutting back the strongest stems to a new bud at the base. Take out weak stems altogether. No regular pruning of orange or lemon trees is needed, but you can nip back dominant shoots now if you want the tree to keep a rounded shape.

Lawns are looking at their worst. The grass has been growing but there has been little opportunity to get out and cut it. The first cut of the year should be higher than normal. Then you gradually work down to the height that you want. Lawn edges might also need tidying up or recutting with a half moon or sharp spade.

Feed soft fruit such as currants and gooseberries by mulching generously round their roots. They are already breaking into leaf and a thick mulch will gradully break down to improve the structure of the soil and maintain moisture round the plants.


Ten years ago my husband and I promised to raise £10,000 to buy a Bedford truck for a tiny medical aid charity called Remote Area Medical. After writing about it in June 2001, 'Independent' readers spontaneously sent cheques. We bought the truck at the end of 2001 and I'd like those generous people to know that it has worked non-stop ever since. This month we learnt that it has just been refitted as a travelling surgery. "Please let any who contributed to the purchase of this vehicle know how important it has been" ends the message. So I am.