Once the holidays are over and the seed catalogs for the new year arrive, gardeners’ thoughts run to spring. It is one of the busiest times of the year, but there are a lot of things you can do in the winter to prepare and to make the spring chore list more manageable. Those who live in the South can tend their yards and gardens all winter, while those of us who live in the North are contending with freezing temperatures and blizzards. Our gardens are buried in snow, but that makes preparation done in the winter even more important.
A good place to start is to survey your garden supplies. If a tool needs to be replaced or you are out of something, add it to your seed order. The seed company should have a selection of tools meant for the home gardener. They also have products for pest control and fertilizers, as well as stakes for tall plants, tomato cages, hoops for supporting plants and garden watering tools. When you order seeds and plants, add necessary tools and garden supplies so you are ready to go as soon as the weather warms up. Here are some other ways to prepare for warmer weather.
1. Assess Your Are you still using patio furniture you inherited from your parents or even grandparents? Maybe this is the year to update your furniture. Use the winter to go online and investigate the different styles of furniture and suggested layouts. Think about how you use your deck or patio. Do you eat meals outdoors in the summer and need a dining table? Do you entertain outdoors and need more seating to accommodate friends and family? All these considerations will help you make a good purchase.
2. Check Your Patio and Deck. Check over your patio or deck for damage or needed repairs. If the repairs are more than you are comfortable with, get some estimates during the winter and schedule the repairs for early spring. If you’re more of a DIY person, decide what needs to be done. Maybe all that is required is a good cleaning with a power washer, which you can purchase or rent. This year might be the year to re-stain the deck. Purchase the needed stain, brushes and rollers and be ready to work the first weekend the temperature is warm enough.
3. Upgrade Your Outdoor Cooking Station. If you enjoy your outdoor grill, this is the year to upgrade. Maybe add an outdoor refrigerator or expand your cooking options by adding a smoker. If you have a healthy budget, there are complete kitchens that can be installed outdoors. Again, think about how you would use the space. Would an outdoor sink really improve your ability to prepare the food you prefer? Maybe refrigeration right where you cook would be more important. Perhaps your family is all about pizza and a wood-fired pizza oven would be the perfect addition to your outdoor cooking station.
4. Invest In More Shade Options. If you are going to get the most use out of your backyard, there will be times when providing shade becomes very important. Depending on the orientation to the sun in the summer, you may want to add a pergola over your deck. Perhaps the only time you need shade is when you are seated at the table and a new umbrella would be perfect.
5. Accessorize Your Space. Consider new cushions for your furniture. Bright colors will give a fun vibe, while muted colors will be more peaceful. Decide what type of mood you want your seating areas to project. Your patio can be a refuge and an escape from stress with a peaceful, quiet energy. Purchase some beautiful pots and containers, staying with one neutral color like white. Then, fill them with cool colors, like blues and purples, with lots of greens. These colors have a calming, peaceful effect. You can also provide an escape from work and stress by projecting an atmosphere of fun and excitement. Purchase some colorful pots in a mix of primary colors and fill them with lots of equally colorful flowering plants like zinnias. These colors have the ability to excite and project fun.
6. Add Blooming Pl Consider planting a flowering vine that can grow up the posts of your pergola and provide a living flowering roof over your deck or patio. It will be beautiful and provide the added benefit of the scent from the flowers. Plant flowering shrubs around your deck or patio to provide privacy, as well as a transition from the hardscape of the deck or patio to the rest of the backyard.
7. Upgrade Adding outdoor lighting to your living space can really boost the use of the space at night and also add a magical quality of the space. Today, there are many options for lighting that are solar-powered so there is no need for expensive electrical access. Use lights to illuminate pathways and stairs, but also illuminate trees or beautiful plantings. Hang lights from the porch rail or from the pergola rafters. Use lights out in remote garden beds to encourage visitors to move out into the yard and investigate.
8. Think About Your Make sure to provide seating out in your yard. It doesn’t have to be fancy–even a bench in the corner or near the birdbath where you can take a break from mowing and just relax for a few minutes. Always have a chair or bench in your vegetable garden. Take your morning coffee and sit for a while in the garden. It may turn into the most peaceful moment of your day.
There are a lot of things that you can do before the weather warms up. While some pertain to the reality of the work involved in maintaining a yard and garden, don’t neglect the fun and relaxation that your outdoor space should provide.