Beating the big chill
You can extend the use of your outdoors with the right planning, writes
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.
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.
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.”
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.