How to prepare your garden for winter
Last week I started noticing the leaves from our two silver birches fall on the ground. This will continue well into November and by December they will stand tall and bare against the wind. Winter is coming and it's more than the famous tv show, I am talking real cold, real rain and possibly lots of snow again. All of which will take its toll not just on your favourite plants but on all the wood surfaces in the garden. This is the right time to protect your fences and decking if you haven't done it in the Spring.
I get it, it's easy to think that you'd better add a layer of protection or a lick of paint closer to the summer when you will be outside more to enjoy your garden. But really, have you thought this through? Would you expect to leave surfaces without a water and humidity repellent coat all through Autumn-Winter and expect them to look good come Spring?
I have tried it myself, and it didn't work, and it cost me dearly to replace water damaged parts of our fence and deck that had rotted away while I was indoors enjoying my layer of protection and warm from the water elements.
1. REPAIR GARDEN STRUCTURES
Just because you spend more time indoors and you cannot see the mess that your backyard is in, doesn't make it magically go away. If you do not attend to the leak of water inside your shed, you will come back in spring to find it in an unpleasant state (with a few new tenants too!).
Watch out for decaying wood and replace it now. Not only will you feel better looking at a garden fence that looks good, your neighbours will thank you for it too. This will also help with retaining your privacy throughout the winter months as gaps in boundaries begin to show on the fence during this time.
Products to use (and you can find them in special prices during this month): one coat of the Ronseal One Coat Fence Life to colour and protect your shed or fence will do the trick. Perfect if you want to get the job done quickly. You don't have to worry about it greying either, as its colour will last a couple of years.
Where did we use it: around the fence of the jacuzzi area last year, trying the Medium Oak Colour with a sprayer as the fence has an intricate trellis like design. The colour looks great so we will not touch this area again this year. One less thing to worry about!
2. PAINT THE SHED
Our shed is in the middle of our garden and we have a clear view of it from both the living room and dining room (well, and the kitchen for that matter). I would hate to see a mess throughout the winter months. In fact, given that most of our plants will be hibernating, it will be perfect to have a nice colour on the shed to lift up our spirits.
When painting a shed, think about adding contrasting colours on trims, painting some of your terracotta pots (and remember to put them on pot bases, as if they are touching the cold or frozen ground they are more likely to break if they are not frost-proof).
What colours to use on your shed? Avoid the very bright colours unless you are living by the sea. Use elegant, jewel like dark tones or opt for a colour that can blent in with the surroundings for something really classy.
Clockwise from top left: Purple Berry, Warm stone, Slate, Charcoal Grey, Ronseal Garden Paint
Two years ago, I tried Ronseal's Slate to refresh the outside of the shed and help it repel water better. You can use a roller for this job, but a brush will hep you go into the niches better.
With a coverage of 12m2 per litre and competitive pricing as well as being rainproof in one hour, it is the ideal paint for the job (needs 4 hours between coats; 2 coats are great but if you go for 3 coats then you can forget about painting the shed for the next 5 years!). I only did one coat (shock) and as you can see my shed still looks good despite the very two heavy winters of 2016 and 2017!
Before you paint your shed, give it a good clean with a stiff brush to remove any flaky paint. You do not need to sand it down like you would with garden furniture for example. If the bees have made holes in the wood, this is also a good time to fill them so that you minimise the draught points.
3. PAINT THE FURNITURE
This might sound counter productive: why paint the furniture now and then let them outside in the cold and the UV rays. Well, unless you have space to keep your furniture during the winter months to prolong their lifetime, you should use paint to add a nourishing layer that will also act as water repellent. Again, the point here is that you are preserving the wood for longer. You can also use colour to jazz up the furniture and therefore add colour to the garden when nothing blooms.
You can use the colours that compliment bigger structures. If your shed is painted Charcoal grey, contrast it with chairs painted in Purple Berry; If the shed is painted in Midnight Blue, use Sundial on your garden furniture. The point is to add focal points.
Clockwise from top left: Sundial, Pink Jasmine, Midnight Blue, Cornflower; Photo: @Seasonsincolour
If using colours is not really your thing, you should still give your outdoors benches and tables a good lick o paint, even if you are going to use furniture covers during winter (furniture covers unfortunately keep humidity inside them and don't allow the furniture to completely dry when the sun is out, unless you uncover them again).
Use a Ronseal stain to keep your garden furniture looking great. It’ll add natural colour to the wood and protect it from everything the weather can throw at it. No cracking, no splitting and the colour will last for 3 years - Guaranteed.
4. DON'T FORGET THE DECK
And lastly: the decking. Have you tried running over a wet deck in the middle of winter? DON'T. If you haven't used the right product on them they will be so slippery it's ridiculous. We use this Dark Oak stain on ours and all we need is 90 minutes of dry weather for it to become waterproof. It lasts twice as long as standard decking oils and restores wood oils lost through weathering.
Work on your garden wooden surfaces before the cold settles and you will thank me come Spring!