The nights are drawing in and summer is definitely over. The 22nd September marks the autumn equinox, when the sun crosses the equator from the north and starts heading south.
If thoughts of retreating indoors are leaving you feeling a little blue, why not put a little work into making your outdoor space work hard into the winter months? Fresh air and sunlight are beneficial for mental health and wellbeing. A little bit of work on your outside space can make it much easier to get your daily dose!
Say no to waterlogged lawns!
First things first – no-one wants to spend time outside on a muddy lawn or waterlogged concrete patio. For wintertime outside, a well-drained area is essential. Choose a porous surface material that allows rainwater to drain away naturally. Decking is ideal as it allows the water to drain away between the boards. Millboard decking – which looks like wood but is actually a composite – is used by many landscapers who value its durability, ease of maintenance and slip-resistant qualities.
Shelter from the elements
The key to warming up a space is cutting out the cold wind. If you’re looking for a permanent solution that is going to withstand the rigours of winter, a hard top structure is recommended. A three sided glass canopy can bring your garden inside and provide shelter from the elements, as well as looking incredibly stylish and modern. Timber gazebos are more traditional or for an ultra-urban vibe, a steel structure with sliding roof can work well. Sadly, your summer canvas gazebo is not made to withstand the elements all winter but you could always use it as a pop-up option for special occasions.
Garden stoves are the crème de la crème of the garden heating world, giving your garden that living room feeling. Bistro style heaters used to be rather expensive but they have become more affordable in recent years and can give out a surprising amount of heat. If you’re more old school, why not invest in a firepit? They are perfect for huddling around and toasting marshmallows. Accessorise with fluffy blankets – you can buy recycled blankets for a vintage look, or even better, why not do a Tom Daley and knit your own!
One infallible way of keeping warm outside is moving around! Combining exercise with fresh air provides a double hit of that feel-good hormone, serotonin - whether it be incorporating a quick weights or resistance band session into your daily routine or having table tennis or giant Jenga outside.
Lighting in your garden is an easy win, even if you are admiring it from the comfort of your cosy armchair. Combining general lighting with more atmospheric lighting for eating and drinking works well. Highlight dark corners with lanterns and frame focal points with fairy lights.
Your garden needn’t hibernate all winter – there are many plants that can add colour, interest and form. Evergreens can provide structure and greenery year round. Cyclamen, hellebores, snowdrops and crocus are all low maintenance, and come back year after year to add early colour. An evergreen winter flowering clematis is good for climbing up a sheltered wall – clematis cirrhosa varieties are perfect.
We are incredibly lucky to have a relatively temperate climate here in the UK and autumn is particularly beautiful – there is definitely no need to retreat indoors just yet! With a little bit of planning and creativity we can continue to enjoy the obvious benefits of fresh air and sunlight on our skin.