A winter's tale
PUBLISHED: 13:23 18 March 2011 | UPDATED: 18:10 20 February 2013
As winter settles in, landscape gardener Nick Turner explains why now is the time to get gardening
November is the perfect time of year to get out in the garden and make the most of the last rays of autumnal sunshine.
With the weather becoming colder and the ground getting wetter, the final cut of the lawn is fast approaching; garden furniture needs to be put in the shed, or at least covered to protect from the harsh winter ahead and the final garden tidy-up needs to be completed in readiness for next season.
With all this finished, you can get down to the fun part: planning your garden for next summer. November is the best time to look around the garden and decide what you want to change. If youre planning a new garden or just improving the borders, take advantage of the winter frost to break up soil and improve its workability, dig over flower beds and add good quality manure. A planting plan is essential for success in the garden and this weather allows you the opportunity to move existing plants and shrubs, and add new specimens while the conditions are good.
A quality lawn needs to be free draining, which means compacted areas (like where children have played or walkways through the garden) need to be aerated. This can be done by inserting a garden fork into the ground and teasing the ground to open up the soil. If the lawn is always wet then you may consider draining the soil, which isnt complicated but is labour intensive and involves digging channels through the garden to channel away water from the surface.
People with busy lifestyles or parents who want to encourage children to play outside all year round, may want to consider laying artificial lawns. Unlike real grass, these lawns stay green all year round and do not suffer from moss and weeds. They are perfect for children to play on, with the added benefit of avoiding mud and mess being dragged into the house by exuberant children.
If you are the type of gardener who longs for the lush green plants of summer, you can still bring your garden to life by planting evergreens, and turn your garden into a wildlife habitat to encourage life throughout the year. Putting up bird feeders with a selection of seeds and nuts will help our birdlife survive the winter, and simply placing a pile of logs in a sheltered corner will help support all manner of insects and helpful garden wildlife.
It is important to remember that a well-designed garden should be an extension to your home, a place where you can eat, read and admire the view or watch your children play. Make sure your garden works visually from inside your home in summer and winter, and dont let your garden be wasted during the remainder of the year. Adding pergolas and trellises can create height, and adding a splash of colour can brighten up a dull corner. Adding lights, heaters and shelter can improve outdoor living and removing large bushes and trees can create light in the garden. The size and shape of the patio area will make all the difference when it comes to outdoor entertaining and adding seating areas will make it even better.
It is important to plan and style your space so that it suits your way of life and character of your house. A great design is the key to realizing the potential of your garden.
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Nick Turner BSc (Hons)
TURNABOUT LANDSCAPES LTD