As the country waits to discover exactly what the Met Office’s threatened “thundersnow” is, we’re fairly certain it’s not something that encourages you out into the garden. Though, it might have you peering through the window to see what’s happening. Too often, winter finds us almost literally turning our backs on our outdoor spaces until spring sunshine draws us, blinking, into the light.
Image supplied by Harlow Garden Services
In more clement winter weather, though, why not venture outside? Well, usually, it’s because it’s too cold, too dark, takes too much effort, and the outside environment just isn’t welcoming. But it doesn’t have to be like that. The secret is to build winter-readiness into your design.
Choice of stone has a clear impact on how welcoming a space is in the colder months. A low-maintenance, quicker drying surface that’s in good nick many years after being laid looks far more welcoming than something that’s greening up with algae, stays damp for long periods and where the mortar is loosening after plenty of freeze-thaw action.
Not everyone can have a sunny, south-facing terrace and where this isn’t possible—and where, say, your outdoor space is particularly overhung with vegetation, something of a frost pocket or tending to dampness—then choosing a low-maintenance paving with very low porosity will have an impact on your long-term enjoyment.
Porcelain and the very hard stones such as granite are particularly resilient. Adhering to a basic twice-yearly maintenance programme ensures that algae doesn’t build up on more porous stone, which should always be sealed to prolong its colour, good looks, and resistance to frost.
Just as well-maintained edges on a lawn make it instantly more attractive, the mortar between paving slabs contributes more to a space than might be expected. Crumbling, broken sand and cement, green with small seedlings and algae make a space especially unwelcoming, so the choice of mortar is important for creating a space that lures you out even on a grey day.
We’ve recommended GftK for quite a few years now, and have had no reason to change our mind. An epoxy-resin coated sand, mixed with a hardener, it sets to a permeable, high-tensile mortar that prevents weeds from growing, resists the destructive burrowing activities of insects, and doesn’t fall prey to freeze-thaw action. It’ll add a smart edge to your outdoor space, even through a succession of the gloomiest winters.
Image supplied by Danscape
But what about supplying the elements that are obviously lacking in the darker, colder days—warmth and light?
No one wants to clutter up their space with stand-alone equipment such as patio heaters, nor move heavy equipment around unnecessarily. An outdoor fireplace offers instant heat and cosiness, and bespoke masonry is the ideal way to ensure an inset gas or wood-burning appliance looks exactly as you want it to, in exactly the spot you want it. Or how about a bespoke firepit or bowl to fit exactly into your design? Just challenge our masons to create exactly the shape and size you need.
Lighting is also easily accommodated, with our Bespoke Masonry department drilling stonework, walls, steps and paving to receive discreet lighting units for a design that highlights particular features, or provides simple illumination for sitting by that fire.
All you need now is a cosy blanket to snuggle into and a warm glass of mulled wine to curl your fingers round, and you’ve the perfect ingredients for enjoying your winter-ready garden.