How to Get Your Outdoors Ready for Winter

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It always feels like the official end of summer when the time comes to dismantle the outdoor living space I’ve created on my porch for the season. It’s a bittersweet time; on the one hand, I’m sad to watch the days grow shorter and colder but on the other hand it gives me the opportunity to reflect on how much I’ve enjoyed my time out there this past summer.

Autumn is usually the time when I update my garden notes, paying attention to what worked for me during the growing season and what didn’t. I start brainstorming improvements too so that I can continue to develop these plans over the winter when I’m stuck indoors.

It’s also a good opportunity to do a little research on how to best care for your garden and/or outdoor space over the winter. Don’t limit yourself to just plants. Patio furniture, planters, pots, urns and other outdoor décor and accessories all need to be properly cleaned and stored for the winter as well. You may wish to clean and take inventory of all of your gardening tools at this time of year as well, and make any repairs or replacements accordingly.

Additionally, there are certain house maintenance issues that may require attention. Gutters and eaves should be cleaned and inspected, as should the screens and windows of your house. (Some people have storm windows that should be installed at this time of year as well.)

Getting my outdoors ready for winter is a unique experience for me because I live in an apartment building. Many potted plants will not last the winter; those I can save I bring inside or winterize in their pots. This I do by spreading mulch over the soil, wrapping them with burlap and twine, and stashing them in a sheltered area that will protect them from windy and damp conditions. Plants that find their homes inside often get cut back and repotted in order to stay strong and healthy during the period of hibernation.

In a way, I’m preparing to hibernate as well. Winter is a gloomy time for me (I’m a fresh air and sunshine kind of gal) and I like to get ready for the season indoors as well by giving my house a good clean to clear out all of the dirt and grit that the summer brought in. I usually take a look through my pantry to reorganize and purge unwanted or expired food. All that extra room gives me the opportunity to stock up on ingredients for homemade soups and stews.

You better my quest for cozy doesn’t stop there either. This is the perfect time of year to wash all of your quilts, blankets and pillows in preparation for some serious snuggle time, or at least a lot of hours catching up on Netflix. I do a ton of reading over the winter as well, so fall is the perfect time for me to dust and re-organize my ever-evolving bookshelf (more about that here) and amass my reading material for the season. (I know you wouldn’t expect any less of me.)

Yes, the end of summer is a sad time for summer babies and garden lovers like myself, but for those of you who feel the same way, take heart: there are still other outdoor holiday decorating opportunities coming our way.

KBwB-BFlower-50It feels like yesterday I was just telling you guys about how I get ready for spring. How has all of that time flown by? I want to know how your gardens did over the summer. What do you include as part of your autumn cleaning ritual? Comment below or email your suggestions to keepingbusyb@gmail.com. Pictures of fall colors are definitely encouraged.

Looking for other autumn-type stuff to celebrate the season? Click here to read why fall is still an opportunity to make a fresh start, get advice on how to store your summer shoes, or bake something seasonal here.

 

How to Get Your Outdoors Ready for Spring

KBB_plantpot_watering_canEvery spring there is always, always, always someone who- without fail- will bust out the shorts way too early. In Canada, that’s always a sure sign of spring- our winters are stereotypically long and cold and once the snow melts, we’re craving warm and sunny weather the same way we crave poutine.

Inevitably, this means as soon as the ground thaws we’re chomping at the bit to clean up our patios and yards and here we have this down to a strategy. It’s hard to know for sure when winter had decided to have its last blast (once, I saw it snow in May) so we’re cautious, and we watch, and wait, and plan. (I talk a little bit more about my own personal outdoor strategy here.)

For me, this usually means taking an inventory of all of my gardening supplies, and making lists as to what I need, and the projects that I need to get done. From here, it’s easy to create a budget and an estimated timeline for getting the space ready for the outdoor season. I like to coordinate this with a big clean-up of my outdoor space, although you might want to break up this task over several days or weeks depending on the size and nature of your space. It might be best to wait for drier, warmer weather to start on any big building or gardening projects.

I’m known around the office as having a little bit of a green thumb, and I honestly think it’s because if I don’t know something about a plant, I’ll look it up. Knowledge is power, and when it comes to gardening you can save a lot of time and effort by keeping yourself informed about the nature of your climate zone, the type of soil you have, and how much light and water your garden receives. It’s easy then to choose flowers and plants that you know will thrive in your garden’s natural conditions, and then takes a lot of the guesswork out for you.

When buying plants I make sure to take notes on the type of care the plant requires and I keep these notes updated throughout the season so next year I look at what worked for me, and what I could improve on. Unless you love experimenting with plants like I do, you might want to skip this step but it’s a practice that I hope will help with my future gardening skills. Part of the fun is learning something new about it every day, and watching the beautiful results.

Last but not least, make sure you’ve replaced, repaired or cleaned all of your doormats or indoor/outdoor rugs. Even though the weather might not be warm enough yet for planting, it creates a sense of excitement to get your transition spaces (like doorways, porches, decks, walkways and mud rooms) prepped and ready for the season.

Once the prep work is done all you have to do it wait, and watch, and dream, and get ready. Even more buds will start appearing on the trees and the grass will get greener. Soon it will be time to start gardening and cleaning the patio furniture and before you know it we’ll be laughing our way through long summer evenings with friends, enjoying the results of long, hard work with beautiful plants and outdoor spaces.

Soon. Soon.

KBwB-BFlower-50Got any plans for your garden that you’d love to share? Drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com or comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Maybe I’ll get some more inspiration for my porch!

I’ve been feeling all spring-y and talking a lot about gardening lately. For my current favorite gardening reads, click here. If you want to see this awesome porch o’ mine (and I am in no way biased) click here.

Porch 4.0

One of the biggest draws of renting this apartment is the outdoor patio space located directly outside my window facing the back parking lot of the building. It may not be the prettiest view, but having a small outdoor space all to my self makes my rental feel bigger in the warmer months, almost as if the patio acts like an extra room to eat or simply chill.

I’ve had the chance to dip my toes into gardening before and really enjoyed it (maybe even almost as much as baking, although I wouldn’t go that far!). So when I moved here four summers ago I decided not to let the jungle of concrete deter me from having an enjoyable outdoor space. Over the years, my patio has slowly evolved growing into a makeshift garden space that’s perfect for sipping my morning coffee and getting lost in a book.

I started out pretty low-key when I first moved in the spring of 2013. I’m guessing my priorities veered more towards buying furniture than starting a garden from scratch. My dad very kindly bought me the hanging baskets as a housewarming gift.

KBB_porch_2013The next year I was craving a little bit more privacy, so with a few extra dollars in my budget I decided to add a few more decorative items and plants to make my porch feel like it was just an extension of my apartment. So in 2014 it looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_1With my dog, Gemma, keeping watch outside my evenings when the light was still out often looked a little something like this:

KBB_porch_2014_2I still miss all of those chalk hearts that I drew all over the concrete ground. At the time I was think it was meant to be symbolic of a safe, loving space but looking back on them now, they were still tons of fun. Unfortunately I discovered that chalk art and dogs don’t really mix. I’d often come back inside to find Gemma covered in rainbow stripes.

Despite the addition of my herb garden, I still hadn’t quite satisfied my green thumb. Some new garden-crazy neighbors moved in upstairs in 2015 and the clippings from their plants transformed my porch into a green oasis. (The new green deck chairs helped.)

KBB_porch_2015Friends and neighbors started dropping off unwanted plants, or plants that needed rescuing and I was more than happy to welcome them into my brood. Unfortunately, a lot of these family members were only seasonal so I find myself back at square one for this upcoming spring.

The nights are still chilly and some mornings I wake to find frost still lingering on the ground, but I’ve already started scheming and dreaming. (Here’s how I do some of my garden research here.) Seeds are starting to sprout in their containers lounging on my windowsill. Already, I’m squirreling away extra cash to fund some of the projects I have planned. This year I’m hoping to find a balance between greenery and recreational space so I can make the most of my porch while I’m able.

When the beautiful weather hits, I know I’m going to be more than ready.

KBwB-BFlower-50I’d love to hear more about your upcoming plans for spring and your outdoor spaces, or maybe you have a suggestion for mine! Comment below or drop me a line at keepingbusyb@gmail.com.

If you want to see a little bit more about how I’ve organized my own personal spaces you can check out how I styled my bookshelf here, the story of how I purged everything in my apartment here, how I organized my closet here and some of the things I just can’t figure out how to organize here.