Paving Slabs Help You to Plan It, Plant It

It may only just be summer, but the Horticultural Trades Association are already looking ahead to autumn, and some of those late-season tasks that can help prepare your garden for winter.

While autumn is the time to get the last outdoor chores done before winter, the summer is your chance to lay the groundwork - quite literally, in the case of paving slabs.

Patios provide low-maintenance outdoor areas that you can continue to use throughout the winter for a variety of tasks, while concrete edgings can define the edges of flowerbeds and concrete fence posts and gravel boards can help to weatherproof wooden fences in preparation for the heavy weather of the winter months.

Planning with Paving

The HTA are launching their Plan It, Plant It campaign, to help educate naive gardeners about the tasks that should be carried out in autumn.

Many of the HTA's tips relate to planting - for instance, autumn is actually the best time to plant spring bulbs and fruit trees, despite many people thinking these should be planted in early spring.

Over two fifths of people surveyed by the association were mistaken on each of these issues, highlighting the fact that even green-fingered gardeners don't get it right 100% of the time.

Feed the Birds

The HTA say: "With the days getting shorter and the nights getting colder, autumn is the ideal time to start feeding the birds in your garden, if you are not already doing so."

Again, a patio area can help you to keep the local wildlife fed during winter, as the hard surface of patio slabs should mean you can put food out without it becoming frozen to the ground.

Start feeding the local birds early in the year, and you could have them visiting your patio throughout the winter, and adding a little much-needed life and colour to the cold winter months.

Turf Wars

One of the great dilemmas of planning a garden is deciding how much to have as lawn, and how much to landscape in different materials.

The HTA say autumn is an important time to prepare lawns to survive the winter and emerge healthy in spring - but we would add that you might want to consider cutting down slightly on the amount of grass you have to look after.

A patio reduces the amount of mowing you have to do, and can give you a more durable surface just outside your door, where grass may tend to get worn away by heavy footfall.

Close to other edges of your garden, flowerbeds can give you a little wriggle room to manoeuvre your mower more easily, and concrete edgings can keep the grass at bay so it doesn't begin to grow into the exposed earth of your beds.

And finally, concrete gravel boards raise the bottom of wooden fence panels out of the earth, helping them to survive the winter by keeping them from rotting due to prolonged contact with wet soil.

Early Birds

If you're joining in the Plan It, Plant It campaign this year, it's a good idea to start early - landscape your garden in summer, perform those planting and maintenance tasks in autumn, and you'll be well prepared to make it through winter without any problems.

Keep coming back to us for more Plan It, Plant It articles in the months ahead, or follow the #planitplantit hashtag on Twitter to keep up with the campaign across the social network.