In Australia, we’re blessed with a warm climate and experience winters that allow us to enjoy our outdoor area all year round. However, as we prepare for the colder months, we need to take certain precautions to ensure our garden will survive and thrive throughout.
Adbri Masonry brand ambassador and landscape expert Jason Hodges says that a little preparation and a few smart purchases can winter-proof your backyard by transforming it from an unused winter space into a cosy feature area that will be a family favourite year round.
Below are Jason’s tips for getting your garden winter ready:
Build a solid foundation
“To make the most of your yard during winter, the important thing, before we even get to heating, is laying a solid foundation,” says Jason.
Whether it’s creating appropriate drainage to avoid your backyard turning into a muddy mess after heavy rainfall or laying a paved entertaining area for cosy dinner parties, there are certain basic steps you can take to prepare your garden for winter enjoyment.
Choose an area near your back door to pave an entertaining patio. If possible, pave a large enough area to fit an outdoor setting and heating unit. Covering the space with an awning or pergola helps to frame the space and makes it feel more like an alfresco room. It also shelters it from the elements, adding to the liveability of the space.
Plan for rainy days and make drainage a priority. Side paths are especially susceptible to being soggy during the cooler months – with houses built right to the boundary, side paths often receive little sunlight meaning after rain, they can end up as no go zones for fear of walking mud through the house.
“I suggest a stepping stone path as opposed to a concrete slab path. Stepping stones will allow water to run between the pavers and into the sub base below,” says Jason.
Opt for a darker colour paver as it will show up less dirt.
Winter can be a tough time for lawns but there are ways to protect them through careful preparation. Choose a slow release fertiliser and feed your lawn throughout autumn to ensure it is healthy and in good condition coming into winter.
The north eastern part of Australia gets less rain than in the stormy summer months so if you live in this area, it’s important to keep your lawn hydrated during what can be cool and dry conditions. In the southern parts of the country where there is more rain during winter, you can switch to watering as needed. You’ll know when grass is thirsty by watching for curling of the leaves or the appearance of dry spots.
Choose your plants wisely
If you are in the process of renovating your yard, it’s a good time to consider plant and flower choices. You can’t go wrong with camellias, which will flower for over six months a year in the right conditions.
If you’ve got potted plants, take the opportunity to consider their position in the yard and, if you can, move them to an area in the garden that may be better suited to capturing more sunlight.
Let there be light
With those short winter days, a well-lit garden is ideal if you want to continue entertaining into the colder months. Lighting can completely change the look and feel of an area. Opt for a floodlight that can be specifically directed at an area or festoon lighting to add ambience (look for the IP44 rating for indoor and outdoor use in all conditions).
“Outdoor lighting allows us to create an atmosphere for different purposes, whether it’s for late night dinners or night by the fire pit,” says Jason.
Warm it up
No garden is winter ready without a source of heat. Opt for a mobile heater to provide flexibility, or a stylish yet functional fixed strip heater that is perfect if you have an overhead pergola.
Backyard fire pits are becoming increasingly popular and can add a real wow factor to your outdoor space. Fire pits are the new water features; they are a great feature in any backyard and require a lot less maintenance than a water feature.
A fire pit will transform your backyard into a cosy and inviting space, perfect or those chilly evenings. Concrete blocks, like AB Courtyard, built up around your fire pit will also add an element of safety and ensure your family are always a safe distance away from the fire.
“The ambience a fire pit brings is worth the investment alone, providing an enjoyable feature for the garden and a natural gathering spot for socialising and entertaining. It’s a great focal point, I like to describe it as nature’s TV and people are naturally drawn to the campfire-like atmosphere,” explains Jason.