Winter a good time for planning ahead
clear up the last of the fallen leaves
Mahonia japonica-fragrant yellow flowers
You may not feel much like going out into the garden at the moment, and who would blame you. The way the weather has been of late even the hardiest of us is thinking more than twice before venturing out. But winter doesn't have to be wasted gardening time, its a time you can garden from the warmth and comfort of your couch and be guilt free. It can be as important, and for some who don't like the hard graft more enjoyable, as any work carried out during summer. The work at hand is planning.
What ever changes you make in your garden, from a major overhaul to planting a single rose, a little time spent planning will not only pay dividends but can also be great fun. If you are considering getting work done in the garden that needs some professional help, winter is a good time to make contact with a garden contractor and start the ball rolling. If you start thinking about this in May when the weather is more conducive to gardening and you might not get that new patio area until most of the summer is gone.
During winter contractors tend to be less busy and can schedule your work in to a time that suits you rather than being added to a queue in spring and summer. Many jobs can be carried out now anyway without disturbing your living space during the months you want to be using it. Hard landscaping projects like patios, walls, decking, pergolas, pathways and drives are all suitable as winter projects. Moving any deciduous plants, those that lose their leaves, is essental to be done in the dormant seasons. Bareroot planting of trees and hedging also has to be done now.
If you are looking to tackle a project yourself planning is often even more important. Whether it's a new veg area, planting border or laying a new patio try to put something down on paper first. A scale drawing can be very useful. It clarifies the mind and also helps you see and solve problems before they occur. A scale drawing allows you to play around with various options and ideas easily and work out space and quantities.
To get to a scale drawing you must first measure the desired area. The easiest scale to work to is 1:100 this equates on paper to 1 centremetre drawn is equivalent to 1 metre outside on the ground. Every millimetre on your ruler is another 10 centimetres on the ground outside. So 10 metres 70 centimetres in your garden will be 10 centimetres 7 millimetres on your page. Easy! If you are feeling brave and want to use a larger scale 1:50 say, you can times the 1:100 scale by times 2. Hence 10 centimetres 7 millimetres becomes 21 centimetres 4 millimetres.
Write your scale used on the plan. Once you have done your planning and designing mark out the area in real space on the ground to confirm you are happy with the size and shape of your ideas for the project in hand.
Planning planting is probably the most enjoyable aspect for most gardeners. Many happy hours can be spent trawling through books and the internet researching plants. It is always good to get local advice from your garden centre as much information given in books and on web sites is general and not specific to Irelands somewhat unique growing conditions. Local knowledge can be invaluable.
When planning either a single plant addition or multiple planting in your garden consider first what you are trying to achieve. Then consider your soil conditions, the aspect, plant size when grown, evergreen or deciduous, flowering time, maintanence. Make an informed selection. So winter gardening can be, fire on, feet up, cup of tea let the wind and rain do its worst and enjoy a your gardening hibernation.