How to make your outdoor space ready for autumn
NOD your head if, when spring rolls around, you go into a backyard cleaning frenzy: Weeding the garden beds within an inch of their life in preparation for the months of entertaining that lie ahead? Many of us are guilty. Now, try to remember how good your garden looked afterwards and how much time you spent outside in the weeks that followed. Okay, so the weather was lush – but with a few summer-to-autumn garden tricks, you’ll have your outdoor spaces looking cosy and useable for the autumnal nights ahead.
DIY fire pit
The cold can hold us back from doing a lot of things we love and it’s the obvious roadblock to spending time outdoors in autumn. But there’s no need to send your guests packing when darkness falls. Why not gather everyone around your brand-new fire pit for some good old-fashioned campfire bonding? You can pick up an affordable fire pit from your local hardward store, but they’re also easy to make yourself from reclaimed renovation materials.
Opt for winter pots
To up your outdoor greenery ante in autumn, opt for pot plants so that when the cool weather comes you can easily move the pots around – which will protect them from the elements. Gavin Cole, horticulturist with ACS Digital Education, says keeping your plants mobile allows you to keep them out of torrential rain or place them in the sun when required. Gavin says pot plants do need to be watered more frequently than garden plants, so it’s important you don’t neglect them. If it’s raining? That doesn’t mean you should stop watering the plants: “You should ease off watering over winter but shouldn’t neglect it altogether,” he says. “Very often rain actually bounces off the leaves – so if you’ve got a plant with a full canopy you’ve got to be vigilant about watering once or twice a week.” Gavin’s top autumn picks for pots, window boxes and hanging baskets: Bulbs for colour: Snowdrops, hyacinths, daffodils (these will flower late winter), snowflakes, cyclamen, amaryllis, anemone. Annuals and perennials: Marigolds, wallflowers, primulas, pansies, violets, sweet peas, cineraria.
Find the blooms in winter shrubs & trees
Many European trees lose their leaves and foliage in winter, but Australia is quite lucky to have many natives that also produce winter flowers. “Among the best ones would be wattles, grevillea, banksia and some tea trees,” Gavin says. If you want to add a bit of colour in your garden, Gavin suggests getting acquainted with the winter berry family (holly trees, cotoneaster), deciduous magnolias, camellia, daphnes, hibiscus, rhododendron and azaleas. Cherry trees also produce a beautiful bloom in winter.
Replant your veggie patch
Get rid of your tomatoes and cucumbers, because we’re nearing the middle of autumn and those summer crops will be looking a bit tired. It’s time to transition to cool season crops. The types of veggies you should plant depends on where you are in Australia, with top-end gardeners the most restricted in terms of variety. Milder winters (temperatures above 4 degrees): ■ Beetroot ■ Carrots ■ Cauliflower ■ Chinese cabbage ■ Potatoes ■ Parsnip ■ Celery ■ Lettuce Colder winters (temperatures below 4 degrees): ■ Broccoli ■ Brussel sprouts ■ Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots ■ Swedes, turnips ■ Spinach, kale Before planting cool-climate crops, it’s important to replenish the soil, putting in some well-rotted organic matter, such as food scrap compost, and finish with a layer of mulch. “The mulch will keep the soil warmer around the roots, giving your crops the best chance to continue growing,” says Gavin. It’s also good garden hygiene to get rid of all decaying leftover matter from summer. “If you don’t there’s a risk that you encourage things like fungal spores,” he says. TIP: Most winter vegetables take between three to six months to grow from seeds, so if you’re going down this path, plant them now! If you’re getting started a bit later, make sure you pick seedlings so they reach maturity in time for winter.
Cover up your dining setting
In larger gardens, try having a few different settings to escape the indoors – and not all need to be covered. For the main entertaining space, however, it pays to invest in some sort of cover. Or if you’re renovating, work this into the design. With a fire pit or outdoor heater to take care of the cold, there’s nothing nicer than watching rain pelt down from your completely dry, front-row seat.
Cosy up your outdoor vibe
Gone are the days of cold, hard plastic outdoor furniture – often left dripping and forgotten in the rain. Once you’ve got your covered patio sorted, the options are endless. You can introduce cushions, throws, soft furnishings and even rugs into your outdoor space. Think of it as turning the outdoor area into another living room, with comforting textures and warm tones for autumn.
Maximise indoor-outdoor flow
Okay, so you’re not going to be leaving the doors wide open letting all the chilly air into the house, but indoor-outdoor flow is important to avoid forgetting about your outdoor spaces completely. Invest in big openings between your indoor and outdoor living spaces to connect the two areas, blurring the visual barriers. Floor-to-ceiling glass pocket or accordion doors will do the trick – then even if it’s too cold to be outside, you can still enjoy the outlook the space offers. — realestate.com.au