Plots and plans

Rutherglen Reformer - - House & Home - David Domoney

Take a look out the win­dow. The chances are, un­less you’re read­ing this on­line and en­joy­ing some win­ter sun in the Mal­dives, it’s grey and gloomy.

Not great weather for be­ing out­doors, but per­fect for stick­ing on the ket­tle and work­ing on some fab­u­lous gar­den projects for 2017.

Do the plan­ning now and you’ll be ready to leap into ac­tion once the weather im­proves. And there is noth­ing bet­ter than an am­bi­tious project to en­er­gise you.

Here are some sug­ges­tions, all of which can be planned out now.

First , how about a gazebo or new shed? You can grab pop- up gaze­bos from DIY stores for un­der £50 but build­ing a per­ma­nent one is far more sat­is­fy­ing.

More im­por­tantly, it will pro­vide a fo­cus for bar­be­cu­ing, work­ing un­der­cover or just hang­ing out in – an es­cape from the kids and the home! Iden­tify a spot that faces the sun at the time of day you are likely to be in the gar­den and isn’t over­shad­owed by trees or the hedge. You can buy off- the- shelf gaze­bos con­sist­ing of a base, side pan­els, a roof and glass to as­sem­ble. The best ones can be at least £1,000. Al­ter­na­tively, you can try it your­self. Do a bit of search­ing and you can find DIY plans on­line. The struc­ture should be soft­wood and bolted to­gether for strength and flex­i­bil­ity. If a gazebo is a bit too am­bi­tious, you could al­ways treat your­self to a new shed. There will be some fan­tas­tic deals in the New Year sales. Or if you’re pin­ing for fresh plan­ning space, how about putting in a new flowerbed or border? With the right choice of plants, you will en­joy year-round in­ter­est. Use a hosepipe to mark out a shape and re­move top­soil and turf with a spade – you can use spare sods to re­pair the lawn. Dig the plot over and use well-rot­ted ma­nure to bulk it up.

If it is a re­ally big space, con­sider hiring a small ro­ta­va­tor or pay next door’s kids to do the heavy lift­ing.

Think of an all- round mix of bulbs, ground­cover plants, an­nu­als and peren­ni­als, an­chored with a cou­ple of shrubs, then taller plants to­wards the back of the bed.

Gar­den cen­tres will hap­pily ad­vise if you need help and you will en­joy the cre­ativ­ity while the weather is too rough for out­door work­ing.

A rock­ery is a great ad­di­tion to any gar­den. Most plants will be dwarf ones so you can fill it fairly cheaply. The main cost is the rocks.

But, once again, you can do a lot of the plan­ning now. Try some dif­fer­ent de­signs and pick a sunny spot for the fin­ished prod­uct.

My ad­vice would be to get the big­gest rocks you can han­dle, rather than lots of smaller ones.

You don’t have to break your back – most gar­den cen­tres will de­liver for a small fee.

Make sure they are firmly em­bed­ded. Up to a third of their mass should be un­der the sur­face to en­sure they are safely se­cured. Add top­soil, sand and gravel in be­tween the rocks and you will be ready for spring plant­ing.

Some peo­ple seem to think a pond is an un­nec­es­sary headache. But it is the king of wa­ter fea­tures and I be­lieve it en­hances any gar­den or out­door space.

For­mal or grungy, sit­ing your pond in the right spot is cru­cial.

Par­tial shade is al­ways help­ful – full sun causes heavy wa­ter evap­o­ra­tion and can also help al­gae run wild. But you don’t want it to be clogged with leaves come the au­tumn.

As with flowerbeds, try us­ing a hose to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent shapes. View it from up­stairs win­dows to get a sense of how the pond will look and feel in situ.

Once you come to ac­tu­ally build­ing it, hire a small dig­ger to save some of the spade work. Moulded shapes in plas­tic are eas­i­est, oth­er­wise use a tough liner that you can shape your­self, packed with sand un­der­neath to stop it split­ting.

Paving slabs around the edge will hold the liner tight un­til it set­tles in.

I would wait un­til spring has ar­rived be­fore you start stock­ing your pond. Then get ready to put all your bril­liant plans into ac­tion.

A GAZEBO NOW IS THE IDEAL TIME to plan ma­jor gar­den projects A gazebo creates a great out­door space for so­cial­is­ing

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