For some people, the onset of colder weather and longer evenings means no more time in the garden. For some, that is a good thing - leave it there, and come back to it in March to deal with the mess. For others, it's a shame - because they haven't twigged that the year-round garden is a possibility. Of course, it takes some extra work, and you need to wrap up warm, but your garden in winter can be spectacular.
We've seen before that it's possible to plant the right things and have a garden that's in bloom all year. But what about the rest of the things you do with your garden? One of the things that makes an outside space welcoming is some signs of life out there. And flowers or plants, although they are alive, don't exactly do much. You can't very well enjoy them through the window for four or five months.
So even if a garden is in bloom all year, that doesn't mean you've got a year-round garden. How can you make it a place where you'll happily spend time in winter, without freezing to death in fifteen minutes? Fortunately, it's more than possible.
Step 1: Install A Fire Pit
The name conjures up images of a supervillain in a Hollywood movie, but the reality is, fortunately, a lot more benign. Let's think about fire pits this way: construction sites don't close down for the winter, do they? And manual work, though it makes you sweat, doesn't keep you warm. So workers on their down time stand around a brazier to warm up.
A fire pit in your garden has the same benefits. You can do some weeding, repaint a fence and keep the garden in tip-top condition. When time comes to take a break, a cup of coffee standing by the fire pit can be like heaven.
Step 2: Pick The Right Furniture
An abandoned garden bench in winter has a certain sadness to it. You can't help thinking of pleasant summer days spent sitting there. And sitting there is what a lot of garden furniture does when the mercury drops below ten degrees. All-weather furniture, from Bridgman.co.uk or other vendors, allows you to still spend time out there. Position it close enough - but not too close - to the fire pit and you've got a lovely winter garden experience.
Step 3: Make It Welcoming To Little Visitors
Many of us have a bird feeder in our garden to attract feathered friends, but with fewer breeds around in winter they often go ignored. Not all birds fly south when it starts to get chilly. Those that hang around will be hungry, so keep the feeder up and favour more fattening treats. Food in nature is going to be in shorter supply, so giving them a fattening treat like suet will keep them coming back.
Step 4: Winterise Your Pond
In the UK, winter temperatures can get below freezing - especially at night. A lot depends on the depth of the pond, but if you have fish in there, it is essential to stop it freezing entirely. You also need to remove any rotting vegetation, as these can release gases that are toxic to fish. If you have a pond filter, move it closer to the surface, as the bubbles caused will reduce the risk of freezing. And if you can't stop it freezing, it's time to move the fish to an indoor tank.