Whilst we are right in the middle of winter, thoughts of developing the garden are almost certainly not top of your to-do list, but in all honesty, this is exactly when you should be thinking and planning ahead. We are all guilty of waiting for some decent, hot weather to evaluate our gardens and then it’s all hands to the pump.
If you want to achieve your perfect garden, the ideal approach is not to rush it. Plan well ahead and think about the key criteria for your outside living area. Here’s a basic check list of points to consider to get the thought process started:
– Safety and security: is the garden safe and secure? Do the boundary lines / fencing need attention? Have there been recent additions to the family which mean the outdoor pond is now a potential hazard? What about the tress – are there any dubious looking trees which are best removed? Can more be done to discourage unwanted intruders from your outdoor space?
– Sanctuary: does the garden offer sufficient privacy from the outside world? Can you do anything to enhance your outdoor room’s “secluded haven” credentials? Could you introduce additional shelter features?
– Entertainment zone: how easy is to entertain friends and family in the garden? Is there a natural space to entertain? How accessible is it to the kitchen? Is it big enough to accommodate your average regular number of guests? Is it sited in the right place ie warm but with some natural shelter?
– Lighting: could you improve upon the existing lighting scheme for your garden? Are there particular features that could benefit from additional accent lighting? Do you have security lighting? Are you using the most cost efficient form of lighting?
– Future perfect: is your garden environmentally friendly? Could more be done to encourage visiting wildlife? Have the materials featured been sourced responsibly? Is it possible to introduce recycling initiatives into your new garden design?
– Maintenance matters: do you need to spend less time maintaining your outdoor room? Are you looking to introduce improved low maintenance features into the garden eg additional hard landscaping, raised beds, mowing strips, an automatic irrigation system, planting of more resilient trees and shrubs?
Once you’ve identified exactly what changes you need to make to achieve your ideal outdoor space, it’s time to convert those thoughts into reality. Aside from the arrival of the new year and all our usual good intentions that inevitably come with it, winter really is the perfect time to begin the transformation of your home’s outdoor space for many reasons. Firstly most plants are dormant at this time of year so if the proposed garden make-over project involves a lot of cutting back of existing stock, it is more likely that the trees / plants will be able to survive this intervention and any other disruption caused by machinery etc. Also rather than having to plant out new trees and hedges from pots, in winter it is possible – and preferable – to use bare rooted stock. In addition to establishing early successful growth your pocket will benefit too, as bare rooted stock is traditionally cheaper to buy than pot grown trees and hedges.
Whatever the scale of project, you need to prepare yourself for some degree of disruption if work is to be carried out on the garden. If you can organise for the hard labour to be conducted during the winter months, you will minimise the interference to you and your family, as it is unlikely that you’ll be spending as much time outside at this time of year.