Beat­ing the big chill

You can ex­tend the use of your out­doors with the right plan­ning, writes

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - STYLE - More ecoout­; figland­; heat­; bun­

There’s no avoid­ing it — win­ter is fi­nally here. But even as the tem­per­a­ture drops, there are plenty of days where the weather is far from mis­er­able.

With a lit­tle thought, there’s no rea­son why you couldn’t be spend­ing more of your days — and nights — in your own back­yard.

Cool change

Di­rec­tor of Fig Land­scapes Grant Boyle says a grow­ing num­ber of his clients are look­ing to ex­tend the use of their out­door spa­ces through the colder months.

“It of­ten comes up dur­ing con­sul­ta­tions if I’m do­ing them be­tween April to Au­gust,” Grant says. “It might just be con­cerns about block­ing out sun­light and us­ing a de­cid­u­ous tree that will lose its leaves over the colder months to let the sun­shine through.”

But while spring and sum­mer are all about bar­be­cues and out­door din­ing, Grant says we want some­thing dif­fer­ent at this time of year.

“We tend to dine out­side a bit more in sum­mer but at this time of year we want a comfy sofa and some kind of heat that will keep you out there,” he says.

Where there’s smoke

The hum­ble firepit con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate as the gar­den must-have when the weather turns cold.

“Most peo­ple are pretty keen to put in a firepit,” Grant says. “It’s a great source of heat but there’s some­thing a bit more nat­u­ral about a fire as op­posed to a stan­dard out­door heater.

“Ev­ery­one has spent time camp­ing and sit­ting around a fire and it con­jures up those mem­o­ries.”

A firepit also pro­vides a nat­u­ral gath­er­ing The Aurora rus­tic firepit from Bun­nings makes an ob­vi­ous cen­tre­piece in win­ter. point, es­pe­cially when it’s time to put an­other piece of wood on the fire.

“And ev­ery­one likes to have a stoker handy for the fire,” says Grant.

Loung­ing around

Key to an en­joy­able out­door ex­pe­ri­ence in cold weather is a com­fort­able lounge in a pro­tected spot in the gar­den.

You can stop cold south­east­erly winds chill­ing you to the bone by us­ing a tim­ber screen or even hedg­ing, but a solid ma­sonry wall is of­ten the most ef­fec­tive be­cause it pro­vides ther­mal mass and will ra­di­ate heat as the sun goes down.

And Grant says the new breed of out­door fur­ni­ture is well worth the in­vest­ment.

“If you are in an ex­posed spot, block­ing that southerly wind and hav­ing that sense of en­clo­sure can give you that feel­ing of pro­tec­tion, cre­at­ing a zone within the gar­den,” he says.

“Out­door so­fas are re­ally pop­u­lar now and they have come a long way in terms of the fab­ric and foam used so that they dry re­ally quickly and re­pel water. A lot of those so­fas look like they be­long in­side.”

Plant­ing ideas

In the rush to fill the gar­den with fur­ni­ture and heat­ing op­tions, it’s easy to for­get the im­por­tance of good plant choice.

De­cid­u­ous trees are of­ten the most spec­tac­u­lar per­form­ers in the gar­den as their leaves may change colour be­fore fall­ing and let­ting the sun­shine through their bare branches, but don’t for­get adding some colour with bulbs, which of­ten start flow­er­ing at this time of year.

This gar­den de­signed by Se­cret Gar­dens of Syd­ney and built by Fig Land­scapes has been cre­ated for year­round en­joy­ment, from the com­fort­able lounge set­ting to firepit in the far corner.

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