Horticulturalist and TV presenter Frances Tophill shares her top tips on how to protect plants from January’s harsh salt winds

Gardening by the sea brings challenges throughout the year, but biting winds and salty spray from storms make winter one of the most testing times. Even the toughest of perennials find themselves fighting for life.

In the deepest, darkest months of the year, it is the salt building up in the soil that will cause most damage and hamper progress once spring kicks in. It is not all doom and gloom, though. Even the most northerly peninsulas of the British Isles find that the coastal influence makes things much warmer. Frosts are rare and ground frosts, almost non-existent.

So what tasks does January bring in terms of keeping on top of the coastal garden? Whether in soil, sand or even shingle, bulbs are the coastal gardener’s best friends and this is your last chance to plant them. A healthy dollop of rich compost or manure in with each bulb will give you guaranteed colour in the spring.

Another thing you can be doing is to continue the big clear up: cutting back, pruning shrubs and trees and generally tidying up in readiness for the burst of life once the temperatures warm up.

For any of us trying to cultivate part of the coastline, during the winter months it will pay dividends to enrich your soil. A mulch of compost or manure will be worth its weight in gold.

Finally, get building. Now’s the time to put into action all those plans you think of during the growing season. It might be a raised bed, a patio, pathway, decking or that garden shed you’ve been meaning to put up all summer. Do it now, when the ground is bare and plants are dormant.

Did you like this story? Read Rewild Your Garden: Winter Tips next

Growing up on the Kent coast, Frances has the sea in her blood. Previously a presenter on ITV’s Love Your Garden, she studied horticulture at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and is the author of First-Time Gardener (Kyle Books). She now lives on the South Devon coast and works on her own plot and community projects. francestophill.com