Hard landscaping and lawns make all the difference to winter gardens

By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 11 November 2016.

Hard landscaping and lawns are the essential, and often unloved, elements of every good garden. Look around – fences, trellises, arches, walls, paths and no end of other hard landscaping things make the framework of the garden, offer places for plants to grow, and shine, and places for people to rest and enjoy the garden. Now is a great time to take stock, repair and renew your hard landscaping and plan ahead for a new gardening year. And the same goes for your lawn.

Why work on hard landscaping and lawns now?

Winter is hard on gardens – the plants and the hard landscaping elements – and yours may benefit from TLC now to prevent winter damage and make them look their best next year.

Most plants are dormant so you can trim them back or move them temporarily, to get behind or under to repair the fence or wall they look so lovely climbing over (and pulling down).

And because the garden is largely dormant, now is a great time to build an arbour, summer house or gazebo where you can enjoy coffee in the spring, iced drinks in the summer, and warming soup in winter.

Choosing hard landscaping features

Try our garden and house revamp blog for some inspiration. There are lots of DIY and ready-made hard landscape features on sale in garden centres, DIY stores and on-line. Before you start to build or buy, be sure that what you have chosen is what you want. All too easy to build it and then find you can’t fit that lovely rattan garden lounger in the shade!

landscaping and lawns
Arbour at Tintinhull Gardens. Rod Allday. Licensed for re-use under Creative Commons licence attribution share-alike 2.0 generic.

Caring for lawns in winter

Just like hard landscape elements, lawns are an essential part of almost every garden. Making your lawn look good in winter is hard – and gardening books and websites generally advise us to Keep Off The Grass in winter.

landscaping and lawns
Please keep off the grass, Great Court, Trinity College, Cambridge. Hans Wolff, who grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

And we should definitely keep off in frosty or wet weather.

The thing to do in winter is keep the lawn tidy and prevent the humpy bumpy look of an unloved lawn. So, in mild and dry spells there are three jobs that help make your lawn look good in winter and prepare it to look great in spring. If you read our autumn lawns blog, you might be ahead on these jobs!

  • If you haven’t already aerated your lawn, do it before winter sets in. You can use either a lawn aerator or simply insert a garden fork at regular intervals and lean it back slightly to let air in.
  • Clear fallen leaves from the grass (they may look lovely for a short time but they rot the grass and the effect looks bad for a longer time). (Don’t forget to add them to your leaf store or compost store.)
  • Mow the grass (and the fallen leaves). Raise the mower blade to number 4 or 5 so that you don’t expose the young grass to frost or risk digging the mower into the soil. Mowing will keep the height of the grass tidy and the pressure of the mower firms the lawn up, doing a lot to stop that unloved field look creeping in.
  • Create clear, sharp lawn edges against borders and paths. It makes the whole garden look loved and it’s easier to care for paths and beds too. If you are using a half moon lawn edge cutter don’t do this on damp and soggy days or you will leave a trail of mud and batter your lawn. Wait for a dry spell. Or now is a good time of year to invest in hard edging.

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