12 Festive Ideas for a Winter Wonderland in Your Own Backyard
Who’s feeling unapologetically festive this year? Decorations are going up early and, I’ll admit it, I’ve had my first mince pie.
But when you deck the halls, don’t forget the doorstep and the garden!
Last year, all those evening walks we went on were made festive and delightful by the efforts people had made with their outdoor space. Your front door will make the first festive impression on Christmas guests and, more importantly, will be welcoming you home during this season of dark, cold nights.
So make your garden as beautiful and as magical as your living room.
You might go big and bright - this is certainly the year for it. Or, if you’re not ready for twinkling reindeer on the lawn, I have twelve simple outdoor décor ideas for a touch of festive sparkle. Light-up Santa optional!
1.Take the Tree Outside
A Christmas tree is not just for the lounge (in fact, they’re not just for Christmas so, if you can, investigate renting a tree). An oversized spruce on your doorstep, or a friendly gathering of firs in pots at the gate, couldn’t be more of a festive welcome.
If you have the space, keep your trees all year - ideally in a spot with a bit of sun - and they’ll be ready, and a foot taller, for next Christmas.
2. Just Add Colour
You don’t have to opt for the traditional Christmas tree to add a festive flourish to your doorstep. Instead take the opportunity to fill any pots and containers laying idle with winter colour. Indeed Lizzie, from The Rose Press Garden, has reminded me that December is really the very last opportunity to plant up pots and containers for Spring. She recommends filling them with bulbs like tulips and daffodils, then topping them with heather and pansies and violas for instant kerb appeal.
Plants won’t grow much in winter so bed them in close together to create a full display and, says Lizzie, ‘keep deadheading flowers throughout the winter months to encourage more flowers to bloom.’
3. Wild and Wow-Inducing Wreaths
[Image Credit: Sprout Surrey]
A Christmas wreath is an essential when turning up the festive cheer outdoors. I like a messy – or shall we say ‘artistic’ – wreath using bits and bobs from the garden.
Making your own is a lot easier than you might think. The wonderful Victoria of Sprout Surrey (follow her on Facebook or Instagram) will be hosting two wreath-making workshops live on social media on Sunday 5th December (10.30am) and Monday 6th December (8pm) in aid of Crisis UK. Just look at the gorgeous wreath (picture above) that she created.
Making your own wreath means you can avoid floral foam, a toxic micro-plastic that will sit in landfill. Instead use a biodegradable inner that you can re-use or throw on the compost heap in the New Year. Line it with moss to hold-in moisture using this tutorial from Sophie at @oldhouseontheshire. If you don’t have moss to forage you can buy it and use it for a few years (just be sure to check where it’s come from).
Please do send me pictures of your creations!
4. Give Empty Hanging Baskets a Festive Makeover
Hanging baskets, that may otherwise be looking somewhat unloved, can be repurposed and filled with spruce, fiery branches of dogwood, corkscrew hazel and pine cones. You could even add old baubles and fairy lights. Some particularly clever people use twine to hold two hanging baskets together. The resulting sphere can be crammed with lights and foliage and hung from the roof of a porch or pagoda as an outdoor chandelier!
5. Impress with your Christmas Crafting
If you are less green fingered, but handy with a saw and paint, make your own outdoor Christmas tree. It seems that just about everything can be fashioned from a palette, including a rather lovely Christmas tree.
Alternatively, grab some windfall sticks of approximately the same length and bind together with jute string into a star. Wrap with outdoor LED lights and hang on the garage wall or shed door.
6. Freeze-Your-Own Hanging Decorations
[Image Credit: Red Ted Art]
Bright red berries; deep green leaves; maybe a sprinkle of seed for the birds; all frozen together in a glittering bauble. These are so simple to make (a lovely activity to do with children and grandkids), but wonderfully effective.
7. Light The Way
Light is so important at this time of year and displays of Christmas lights can be spectacular in the garden. However, if, like me, you’d rather avoid grappling with strings of lights whilst teetering atop a ladder, focus on lighting the main path to your home. Fill lanterns with baubles and fairy lights to position on the doorstep or porch. Or clean and fill the glass jars from the pre-Christmas food prep for a wintry glow.
Perhaps twine some outdoor lights round bushes or tree trunks. Use Tanya’s (@tanyascountryarden) tips for finding key features in your garden and look out of your windows to see which areas of your garden to highlight.
LED lights use less energy and I’d recommend choosing and sticking to one colour to keep the look connected. A warm white will create a welcoming ambience, or opt for bright white for an icy dramatic look.
8. Add Festive Silhouettes to your Windows
[Image Credit: Jesus Sauvage]
Simple clean graphics look elegant and entrancing traced onto the glass of living rooms or conservatories. Lit from within they become quite magical and a visual gateway between the outdoors and in. They are so easy to create with stencils and a white marker, but are really quite dramatic.
9. DON’T Tidy the Flower Beds
I read this advice from the RHS Ambassador Jamie Butterworth recently: let yourself be lazy in the garden at this time of year; don’t cut back the perennials or the grasses; leave them be. The skeletons of plants and dried seedheads add structure to a winter garden. Then, laced with frost on a crisp cold morning, they take on an ethereal other-worldly beauty. Anyone who encourages me to do nothing is someone I listen to!
Similarly I encourage you to sit and enjoy the natural winter wonderland in your garden at this busy time of year.
10. Create a Cosy Outdoor Haven
Ensure you place an inviting seat in a beautiful spot that will draw you outdoors with a throw and a hot chocolate. Or, set it up with warm spiced cider to entice festive guests to linger in the wonderland you have created, before being swept up into the noise and whirlwind indoors.
The Armadillo Sun Bean Chairs won’t get soggy and are so light they can be rearranged as often as you want. Perfect for a Christmas photo or two!
11. Plan Ahead for Next Christmas
Lizzie from The Rose Press Garden also suggests planting now for beautiful gardens next Christmas. If you plant trees and shrubs in winter, when the plants are dormant, they will put on a spectacular display the following autumn and winter. Winter scented climbers planted now will reward you with amazing scent the following year. A popular choice is Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) which smells gorgeous; Honeysuckle 'Winter Beauty' flowers prolifically; and the florists’ favourite, Acacia dealbata, is a superb evergreen for a sunny wall with prettily divided, silvery green foliage that can be used in wreaths or Christmas tablescapes.
12. Embrace Festive Maximalism!
Finally, if you’re opting for more-is-more this year - light-up Santa, twinkly reindeer, and all - then you'll be in good company. Do whatever makes you smile as you walk up to your front door and puts you in the mood to belt out some Mariah!
However, you choose to decorate it, enjoy your beautiful Christmas garden this year! If you're searching for some thoughtful gifts for friends and family from companies with a conscience then do have a read of our blog with ten Christmas present suggestions.