As the weather gets colder, it’s very natural to want to down tools, go inside, and wrap up warm. However, the winter is also a fantastic time to reconsider kickstarting and revitalising your space and getting ahead of the game with new planting designs, so you can be met with rich beds of colour when the springtime descends. Furthermore, just because it is cold, doesn’t mean you need to neglect your outdoor area. With proper seating, heat, and lighting, your garden can become a perfect winter escape for private evenings in, or to entertain guests with a hot cocoa or a mulled wine. In this article, we outline some of our favourite winter garden designs to implement in your space, from hardy planting, garden furniture, lighting options and outdoor heating. Let’s take a look…
Reevaluate Your Planting
The winter provides an excellent opportunity to take stock of your space and reassess your outdoor designs going forward. With the natural falling of leaves, you will see where the most obvious vacant spaces are for new planting. Many plants can grow and even thrive in the winter, with the Autumn time being the perfect time for planting winter flowering bulbs.
Similarly, certain types of geraniums can withstand a covering of winter frosts, so it isn’t necessarily true that your garden will become lifeless and colourless in the colder months. If you want consistent flowering, we recommend choosing perennials over annual plants, as perennials will regrow in the springtime, rather than dying off. The fallen dry leaves also serve as fantastic fodder for compost. Alternatively, you can use a lawn mower to simply shred the fallen leaves on top of your lawn, to help to fertilise and strengthen the quality of the soil.
Choosing Outdoor Seating Materials
There are many materials to choose for outdoor furniture, including timber, metal, and rattan, which all have their advantages and disadvantages, dependant on your specific design needs and frequency of use. Timber for example, naturally blends with the tone and texture of your garden space with its premium looks. However, this natural look can also be its downfall, as timber is an incredibly absorbent material, which could cause your seating to rapidly decompose unless properly stored inside or covered with a plastic tarpaulin. Metal similarly has a rich, high-quality look, but can be prone to rust unless properly treated.
For ease of use and storage, recycled plastic or rattan furniture is the perfect choice, although plastic pips rattan to the post for sheer longevity. Most plastic furniture is incredibly easy to assemble and will not need any treatment in contrast to their timber or metal counterparts. Furthermore, with plastic and rattan furniture, a wet seat can be easily dried off with a tea towel, as opposed to a timber chair which will absorb the moisture, potentially leading to warping and splintering. Compared to rattan, recycled plastic will have the most naturalistic texture, as the surface is made from rough compacted plastic fibres.
How To Heat Your Garden
Most people avoid using their garden in the evenings or winter for a very simple and understandable reason: it’s far too cold! Thankfully, there are plenty of methods available to heat your garden space, which range in simplicity of installation and price point. A fire pit can consist of a simple hole that you have dug yourself, filling the base with sand, gravel, and stones, or you could purchase something more bespoke, such as a wide metal dish for cut kindling, or a gas fuelled burner. These can create a gorgeous, warm focal point for your garden space, working as an interesting ornamental piece, even when note in use. Alternatively, buying a freestanding terracotta chimera provides you with that same central decoration, whilst skipping the potential costs and effort of installation. Bringing rugs and blankets from indoors when sitting outside is also a quick, simple method of keeping warm when using your garden in the winter.
If you have a slightly larger budget for your garden renovations, you could install permanent garden gas or electric heaters that operate with a touch of a switch, the same kind that would frame an outdoor seating area of a pub or a restaurant. These outdoor heaters can help your garden to feel more like of an extension of your home and are perfectly paired with some kind of outdoor shelter, such as a pergola. There are also alternative freestanding designs, that will not need to be hung from any outdoor ceilings but may need to be positioned near an indoor plug, gas mains, or outdoor generator. Please note when installing any fire pits, chimeras, or outdoor heaters onto a decking surface, please make sure that the material is appropriately fire rated. Certain types of aluminium or composite decking would be the ideal choice for these garden additions, as opposed to the flammable surface of natural timber.
Lighting your garden allows you to make more out of your space, even as the weather gets colder and the nights draw in faster. You can create a mellow, ambient feeling for a hidden garden corner, somewhere for you to entertain guests, or to relax privately. Brighter lighting is ideal for more practical, functional reasons, like outlining the borders of a garden path, or to simply allow you to see what you are doing if partaking in any late-night gardening tasks. Motion sensor lighting also has the practical advantage of deterring any unwanted visitors to your space and can help your outdoors feel safer during those dark evenings.
There are many kinds of garden lighting to choose from, with the cheapest and simplest option being to hang or wrap string lighting around balustrades, trellises or pergolas. These can be taped or stapled into position, the cable resting on top of nails. Similarly, you can use solar powered planter lights, which are designed to be staked into soft soil, though these may be less effective in the winter with shorter days. For more permanent looking lighting fixtures, you can install LED lights into the edging of any decking area.