Sustainable DIY Projects for Your Garden Over the Holidays

Use this chilly season to prepare your garden for warmer days ahead.

man builds a cold frame for a vegetable garden

krblokhin / Getty Images

Since many people have some time off work over the holiday season, this can be a great time to get on with some useful DIY projects in the garden.

If the weather where you live is very cold at this time of year, then you may be inclined to stay indoors. But it is worthwhile dressing warmly and spending some time outdoors readying the garden for the growing season to come. This is a chance to get up close and personal with nature in a winter garden.

Here are some eco-friendly DIY projects that you might be able to take on over the Christmas period, no matter where you live.

Build a DIY Greenhouse or Cold Frame

Creating your own greenhouse, cold frame, or other undercover growing area will bring spring that little bit closer in cooler climate gardens. In many areas, you can grow all year round if you have a suitable undercover growing area to use. So these can be very valuable, especially where it is not possible to grow much outdoors over the coldest months.

Before rushing out to buy a new greenhouse, polytunnel, or cold frame, I would highly recommend that you take a look at any reclaimed and natural materials that might be available to you. There are plenty of DIY greenhouse options to make structures large and small.

Erecting an undercover growing structure in the middle of winter will give the soil within a chance to warm before spring, bringing forward the sowing and planting seasons for crops sown in spring.

Consider, for example, making the frame for a smaller greenhouse or cold frame from branches or bamboo gathered from your garden, or a larger one from reclaimed wood. Hoop house structures can also be made from bendy branches or reclaimed plastic piping. Cattle panels are useful in creating larger undercover structures

Make New Raised Beds

Another project you could consider is making the bed edging for a new raised bed, or constructing raised beds in your garden from natural or reclaimed materials, maybe even wood from your property. You might use earth bags or other materials that would otherwise be thrown away. With a little time to plan and prepare over the holidays, you might be able to mark out the area for your new garden beds and build the edging so it's ready to fill when spring arrives.

Depending on where you live, you might be able to start adding materials into your beds, so that you can slowly layer up organic materials within them before you add a final layer of finished compost on top and plant into the beds come spring.

vegetable beds covered in snow

Philippe Gerber / Getty Images

Make a DIY Fire Pit

If you would like to make sure that your garden is a fun place to be, in areas where this is permitted, you might consider taking some time to build a DIY fire pit. There, you and your family can wrap up warmly and enjoy the flickering firelight, and perhaps even have a winter cookout or make s'mores under the stars.

You can build a fire pit ring using stones, reclaimed blocks, bricks, or metal. An old wheel rim part buried in the ground is another option. You might also craft a more elaborate fire pit from reclaimed drums, metal barrels, or sheet metal, depending on your level of DIY expertise.

Make Bird Feeders or Nesting Boxes

If you are looking for a quick and easy DIY project, perhaps something to enjoy with kids over the Christmas holidays, then making bird feeders is a great option.

Hanging feeders close to your home can bring in winter birds for some birdwatching fun. And the birds will really appreciate the food you provide. You might make feeders from a wide range of reclaimed materials, so it's likely you already have some materials close at hand that you can use. 

Place nesting boxes now, and the birds looking for a nesting spot in late winter and early spring are far more likely to choose to stay in your garden.

Prune Creatively 

One final idea to think about does not involve finding any additional materials at all. You might be able to take on a project to prune existing trees or shrubs creatively in your garden. 

Many species are best pruned over the winter months—though you should be sure to check which species you have, and to determine when is the best time to prune those plants. 

Creative pruning could, for example, allow you to create more space for inventive understory planting. It might allow you to create a cozy arbor where you will be able to sit eventually on warm summer days. You might be able to prune existing trees and shrubs to make way for a treehouse or other garden buildings, or prune the plants in such a way that they create a den for your kids to enjoy. 

There are plenty of other ways to use your time over Christmas. But the above ideas may inspire you to get out in your garden, even during the chilliest part of the year, to improve things and get ready for the warmer months to come.