Why Winter Is the Best Time to Design A Garden

 In Garden Design, Uncategorised

Are you one of those people who stops thinking about their garden at the end of October and barely gives it another thought until spring? Have you even considered that you might be missing a trick? Winter is actually the best time to design a garden, and here’s why.

  • You see the garden at its worst and can quickly spot areas for improvement.
  • With most of the vegetation gone, the structure of the space is clearly visible.
  • It’s easy to identify where lighting would be most beneficial.
  • You’re less likely to be influenced by displays in garden centres and therefore not tempted to impulse buy unsuitable plants.
  • Garden Designers and Landscapers will have more time to discuss your ideas and you’ll have a much better garden as a result.
  • It gives you something to look forward to! A garden makeover will lift your spirits at the prospect of spending

a good reason to design a garden in winter - this boring outdoor space would be transformed by a garden makeover

Not many gardens look inviting in winter, but with careful design, they can be transformed into vibrant spaces for all year round enjoyment.

What To Consider As You Design A Garden In Winter

When you are standing at your window, looking at an uninviting garden outdoor space, it’s difficult to imagine what it could be like in summer. So don’t try. Focus instead on how you would like to use your garden in winter and what it could look like right now. Let’s face it, you’ve paid good money to have a home with a garden but you’re only using said garden for half of the year. How could you get better value for money?

How Do You Want To Use Your Garden In Winter?

It’s all very well to design a garden that will bring you joy in summer time, but how will you use it for the rest of the year.

In an ideal world, what would you like to use your garden for in winter? Here’s my wish list.

  • Children’s play.
  • Growing hardy herbs and a few fresh veggies for the kitchen.
  • Thinking space – escaping from the hubbub of family life if only for five minutes.
  • Working from home in my garden office.
  • Storage space for toys, plants and outdoor furniture that don’t enjoy winter weather.
  • Hobbies – a garden gym, sewing room, carpentry workshop or art studio would all be well received by my family. 
  • Outdoor cooking – nothing beats standing by a barbecue on a chilly day.
  • Wellbeing – engaging with plants and soil through a little bit of weeding, digging and pruning.
  • Alleviating the symptoms of SAD. https://silverbirchgardens.co.uk/using-your-garden-to-help-manage-seasonal-affective-disorder/
  • Great views from within the home.
  • Kerb appeal – welcoming visitors.

Silver birch trees seen against a bright blue sky. Excellent trees for winter interest in the garden

Bare trees look amazing in winter, especially if they have features such as colourful stems or an interesting shape

Identifying And Solving Garden Problems

So what’s stopping you from using your garden in winter. Obviously the weather is a factor. You can’t control the temperature or what falls from the sky, but a wise man once said “Theres no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing”. I might adapt that saying to take into account that good garden design can make outdoor spaces a lot more hospitable in bad weather.

When you design a garden in winter, you can easily spot the problems that you need to solve. 


Boring but true, waterlogged lawns, slippery patios and muddy paths are enough to stop anyone using their garden. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Obviously no garden designer or landscaper, no matter how talented they are, can control the weather. However, it’s perfectly possible to manage the way that water behaves in your garden. 

Take plenty of photographs when your garden is wet and note where the water is most troublesome. These facts will be invaluable to anyone trying to design a garden.

beautifully lit garden with exotic shaped plants


Every single family I’ve ever met has at least one ‘track’ in their garden. It might be a long dip in the lawn, or a muddy path which pays testament to their most frequent journeys around the garden. Typically, the track will run from the back door to the shed. Or it might go right around the edge of the garden where the family dog does their daily boundary check.

These tracks are less visible in summer. So take not of where they are. These are the areas where you need to place features that can cope with heavier footfall. 


Trees in winter may seem boring. Especially deciduous trees. But with clever lighting they can become the focal point of the whole garden. 

When the leaves are off you can really see the shape and structure of the tree. How could you light it up to give you a spectacular view from your window? Fairy lights? Hanging lanterns? Or lit from below to highlight the pattern of the branches.

No trees? Now is a good time to decide where to place one. The white stems of silver birch trees will shine brilliantly on a dull day.

professionally built garden with timber structures and evening lighting

A cosy seating area for year-round use. For added comfort in winter, a patio heater would be just the job.


Winter isn’t all bad, there are some days when the sun shines brightly and you feel tempted to nip outside to soak up some of that vitamin D. But a cold breeze will soon send you running back into the house. 

Where is that breeze coming from? Are there any places in the garden that feel less exposed? Shelter is an important thing to think about when you design a garden. A wind-break for winter and some shade for summer are crucial factors.


Yup, it’s true, when it comes to plants, summer is usually a lot more vibrant and exciting than winter. But that needn’t be the case. When you design a garden in winter, you’re more likely to put extra effort into choosing plants that look good during the colder months. 

Think about coloured stems and foliage. Strong shapes, plants that move when the wind blows through them. Flowering plants – yes, there are more of them than you might think! Scented plants. Plants that provide shelter. And my favourite – plants that bring birds into the garden.

You might enjoy my blog about plants for winter interest.https://silverbirchgardens.co.uk/12-plants-for-winter-interest/

Do you need help to design a garden? 

Book a garden design consultation with me, Dan Richards, to unlock the potential of you outdoor spaces and make more of them all year round.

Contact Dan. 

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