It’s Christmas!

Christmas garden displays are an annual opportunity for home-owners to express their festive spirit. Whether that involves a few strings of fairy lights or something more complicated, there’s plenty of scope for brightening up an otherwise dark December.

While cosy Christmas interiors will delight any family and friends lucky enough to be invited into the home, it’s the exterior that neighbours and passers-by will judge the house on. There’s a whole world of possibility between the Scrooge-like absence of any decoration and the energy-sapping brilliance of some gardens. Finding the right balance will depend on the family’s taste, environmental conscience and budget.

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Lawn Ornaments
Lawn ornaments such as deer, snowmen, penguins or Santas can help provide a focal point for gardens with relatively large areas of grass or driveway. They are best avoided in small gardens as they can cause them to look cluttered.

Lighting
Less is sometimes more when it comes to effective site lighting. Using a few lights to accent existing features of the garden is far more subtle than simply wrapping endless strings of lights around every available surface.

Posts or pillars are ideal for winding lights around. They also look pretty lining eaves, rooflines, door frames and windows. Try to stick with one colour and use LED lights to minimise energy waste.

Measure the route the lights will take, screwing hooks in to hang them off wherever possible. These are easier to extricate than nails once the festive season is over. If decorating trees or shrubs, a general guide is approximately 100 lights for every foot and a half of surface. It may sound obvious, but make sure the lights work before hanging them.

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Door Wreath
The final touch for a fantastically festive garden is the front-door wreath. Christmas guests will be all the more impressed if it’s handmade. Use willow (or thick garden wire) for the frame and intertwine it with holly, ivy and small branches of a conifer. For an added touch of luxury, use a velvet ribbon to hang it.

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Safety
Putting on a show-stopping festive display isn’t worth a sprained wrist or some other minor injury – it certainly isn’t worth dying for. Only use power tools from reputable brands such as Fein, and which have been tested for safety.

Use a strong and sturdy ladder when working above head height and ask someone to foot the bottom of it. Don’t scale trees or climb on the roof to hang lights. This is dangerous at the best of times, even more so during the icy throes of winter.

Make sure any decorations requiring electricity are designed for use in the garden. Any cabling should reach into the house. Don’t be tempted to feed an extension lead outside to meet any shortfall.

Bear in mind that the public may wander into the garden to marvel at the display. Remove any trip hazards or anything else that could cause damage to over-excited children or animals.

Resource Box:

Winter gardens
Top ten National Trust gardens.

Disastrous decorations
Some decorative ideas that might not be worth emulating.

Christmas projects
How to create a Christmas door decoration.

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