January is a good time of year to plan a new garden or take a fresh look at an existing one
Whichever the case, and whatever the size of the garden, take your time. It is far better, and you will be much happier with the results, if you first assess the various factors before springing into action.
What are your garden’s strong and weak points? With the trees leafless now, and most of the herbaceous plants out of site, you can see the ‘bones’ of your garden.
The aspect of your garden (which way it faces in relation to the sun) is very important. Aspect determines what time of day your garden gets the sun, where the sun reaches and for how long each day. If you have a choice of where to build a patio, site it in a west facing position, where the afternoon sun reaches, if you possibly can.
If you have a shady garden don’t despair! With a bit of thought, planning and careful plant selection a shady garden can be every bit as lush as a sunny one, and even more intriguing. Foxgloves, ferns and campanulas all look very natural under the shade of a trees.
Closely related to aspect is exposure, another very important factor. In England the prevalent wind is a southwesterly one, which means that a garden facing southwest, though blessed with a lot of sun, has wind to contend with.
If your garden is a windy one, you may need to think about windbreaks in the form of fencing or wind-tolerant shrubs or trees. And now is the time to plant them, while bare root plants are available.
Privacy is every bit as important as shelter and you may want to put screening in from your neighbours, especially around a sitting out area. You may also want to screen unsightly utility items such as wheelie bins.