How To Enjoy Your Outdoor Space This Winter


If you are similar to me, then you will enjoy using your outdoor space all year round. As long as I can keep warm and dry, I see no reason why I shouldn’t continue enjoying the garden well beyond what the seasons normally dictate. Maybe it’s our tradition for Autumnal bonfires here in the UK, or our love of mulled wine and hot chocolate, but the garden in winter can be just as much fun as during any other time of the year.

We may be heading toward the shortest day of the year, and the coldest months of January and February are yet to arrive, but the garden is still an option when practical features and great design are incorporated into our outdoor spaces. By following these 3 tips you too can enjoy your space well into the winter.

Provide Shelter

While permanent structures such as pavilions, gazebos, porches and garden rooms are perfect for keeping warm this winter, you may not have the space or the budget to consider installing one. Instead, look for ingenious ways to provide shelter.

I’m a big fan of pergolas: not only are they great design features in themselves, but also provide the twin functions of shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. Simply hang some heavy curtains or other material and you have the ideal winter shelter. Pergolas need not be large and expensive; you can find a decent self-assembly model from around £300.

Alternatively, how about some inventive ways to use hardscape panels, such as corten steel? Perhaps even good old fashioned windbreakers, or some self-assembly awning? Again, it’s time to get creative and figure out what will work best for you space and budget. Making a den isn’t just for children!

If your space is small, why not consider a pop-up garden gazebo, like those used by campers? One of these would be perfect for a small patio, terrace or garden. Once winter is over, they can easily be dismantled and put into storage. Hang some heavyweight material as discussed before.

Planning a special occasion, or want something that goes that little bit extra for Christmas? Then maybe you should consider hiring a tipi or yurt for a weekend! I’m yet to try this, but have always found the thought of my very own yurt, shared with friends or family and snuggled with a wood burner as the perfect way to spend a winter weekend. Some sample Prices start at £315 to hire a tipi for the weekend, or £350 to hire a yurt.

However you decide to provide some shelter, think about how you will accessorise. Add a few comfort items such as throw blankets, an outdoor rug and some padded seating for extra insulation on those chilly evenings. Include some nice lanterns for lighting. You will soon have the perfect winter grotto at your disposal.

Garden Shelter in Winter

Provide a Source of Heat

Long John’s and thermal vests will only get you so far…to really enjoy your outdoor winter wonderland you need to provide a source of heat.

For me, one of my favourite ways to enjoy the garden is after dark, with a wood-burning fire providing the atmospherics. The rustic charm of a naked flame in a fire pit, chiminea or outdoor fireplace, shared with friends and a glass of wine, will tempt me outdoors regardless of what the weather is doing.

If you are going down the naked flame route, consider fashioning some kind of windbreak to encapsulate yourself against the chill of a raw breeze. Be sure to burn dried wood to minimise smoke and maximise heat and if you are planning on burning an open flame in a shelter, then ideally you should invest in a chiminea to prevent yourself from being smoked out. And marshmallows are essential!

If you decide that a naked flame won’t suit your space, then consider investing in a patio heater. These heaters run on either gas or electric and, with such a dazzling array of designs available, are very much a design feature themselves. To help you select the right heater for your space, we have created this guide to choosing a patio heater.

Fire Bowl


Lighting Your Outdoor Space

Whilst your fire will provide you with some light, you will also need some kind of portable light, or ‘task light’ to give the correct term. You may be tempted to use a standard battery torch, but for me there is only one type of task light for the winter…a good old fashioned hurricane lamp.

With a heritage stretching back over 200 years, a hurricane lamp is both highly functional and very desirable. Lamps such as these supplied light for homes for more than 100 years, before the invention of gas powered and modern electric lighting. Usually encased in toughened glass, these lamps burn oil and were created to withstand a strong breeze.

Hurricane Lamps

I find hurricane lamps just so damned romantic. I picture myself walking around the grounds of an 18th Century Manor House, hurricane lamp aloft, searching for the source of that strange noise I keep hearing. Even today, the hurricane lamp takes some beating as the ultimate outdoor light for the winter season.

Aside from task lights, winter is also a good time of year to experiment with different lighting effects. You can get creative with some accent lighting: a means to add drama by illuminating certain features in the garden. With the lack of foliage and leaves, try to draw out architectural features, or the branches of a tree. To understand different types of outdoor lighting and their effects, see our guide to outdoor lighting basics.

Having invested your time and money into your outdoor space, why limit your outdoor enjoyment to only six months per year? I hope by employing these three tips you will be able to savour the special atmosphere that winter brings to a garden. Keep yourself warm and dry and you will appreciate your garden and nature in a completely new context.

Winter decorative lights

  1. Jennie Davies said:

    Some wonderful suggestions! Would love to get a chimnea/fire pit for our garden. We haven’t used the garden at all since it got colder. Such a shame!

    • Nick said:

      Hi Jennie, hope you’re feeling inspired to get out into your garden…perhaps it’s time to buy that chiminea / fire pit. Enjoy:)

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