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How to winter proof your garden and outdoor living areas

By Christy Scholefield

There’s no doubt we’re in for a chill this winter, which means days on end spent indoors and dark dreary evenings (if you’re not prepared). Giving your outdoor area a little love before winter could be the perfect way to brighten up your winter at home, and make the most of the sun when it does peek through the clouds.

Giving your outdoor area a little love before winter could be the perfect way to brighten up your winter.

Plant something new

It’s commonly assumed that the beginning of winter is a terrible time to plant new vegetables and plants.

However, this assumption isn’t entirely correct as there are several vegetables and flowers that actually thrive in the cold weather and are perfect for brightening up your garden during the winter months.

Vegetable-wise, try planting: beetroots, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, English spinach, leeks and onions. These vegetables don’t mind the cold but still need plenty of sun so make sure you plant them in the brightest part of your garden.

To add a splash of colour, try flowering plants like daphne, Happy wanderer, snowdrops or lily of the valley. These need plenty of care and water but should survive winter’s worst frosts.

Warm your deck up

Creating shelter is a great way to make your outdoor heating more effective.

When it’s too cold to go outside, winter days can get a little dreary, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Patio heaters are available from most hardware or heating stores, and can make the outdoors comfortable even on the chilliest of days.

Try to only heat one area such as a comfortable seating spot, or an outdoor dining table. That way you can have your patio heater focused on one spot throughout winter so that you can get your daily dose of outdoor air and vitamin D without catching a chill.

Create shelter or use patio curtains

Creating shelter is a great way to make your outdoor heating more effective and to keep you from the wet and cold when you’re outside. When installing your own, your best bet is usually a retractable canopy or a glass roofed pergola – something that lets the sun in and traps the heat but also blocks the wind and rain.

This will make your outdoor area warmer, dryer and more comfortable year round and help to coax you outside on even the coldest of days.

Put the deck chairs and sun shades in the shed and pick something cosier.

Make the decor as cosy as possible

Summer decor in outdoor areas doesn’t cut it during winter, so put the deck chairs and sun shades in the shed and pick something cosier. Outdoor couches that you can sink into, warm throws and even outdoor rugs are a great way to make your deck area warm and comfortable – like an extension of your indoor living room.

Try to pick furniture and decor that creates a feeling of snug warmth and carries a theme through from your indoor living areas. If you choose well you’ll blend your outdoor space into your indoor living areas, which is another great way to help coax you outside when it’s cold.

Improve your lighting: brighter is better

Nothing makes cold feel worse than the dark. It gets dark quicker than ever during winter and that is why one of the most essential elements of any outdoor area is sufficient lighting. Installing lighting outdoors can be a little difficult so make sure you seek the help of a registered electrician before you get started.

Use warm LED lighting as it’s more energy efficient, creates more illumination per watt and will bathe your outdoor area in a glow rather than glaring white light. When it’s light and bright outside you’ll be more inclined to throw the patio heater on, wrap yourself in a blanket, and read a book.

Create a retreat

Effective outdoor areas are all about creating a space that feels like a retreat – they should be comfortable, warm, bright and attractive. So the key is always to make sure you feel comfortable in your space by installing whatever will achieve that, be it a spa, a fire pit, a pergola or even an outdoor kitchen.

Have a think about whether your outdoor area is in good shape before the mercury drops. Making the right changes could make for a better winter, not to mention adding value to your property.

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