There is plenty to do in the garden during February, it is the last month where pruning can be carried out as the garden is still dormant. All winter pruning should be completed by the end of the month before the growing cycle starts again. Now is also a good time to carry out any formative pruning on freshly planted stock to ensure a good basic structure for the coming season. Use only sharp and clean cutting tools such as secateurs, loppers and pruning saws as blunt tools will cause unneccesary damage. Remember to check any trees that have supporting stakes and that they are still giving the correct amount of support, ideally the stake should only extend to one third of the height of the free trunk and have a tie of the correct specification for the tree. Once the tree has established itself support can often be removed, there are some exceptions to this rule so if in doubt please consult an arborist. As daylight hours lengthen it is also easier to check trees for the presence of deadwood and damage sustained over the winter months. Removing damage and deadwood now is far easier and less costly than in summer when trees are in full leaf. Please be aware that your trees may be subject to legislative protection. It would be wise to consult a professional arborist if considering work to larger trees. Hedges can be pruned or where neccesary gaps identified and filled with bare root hedging whips (if not already carried out in November). February is also the final chance to plant any bare root trees and ideally containerised ones to allow them the best chance of a full first season’s growth. Trees planted in rural areas may also require guarding to prevent damage from deer and rabbits.