Plots and plans
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