I did a load of impulsive weeding today - took out some huge weedy reedy grassy things - and now there is just a mess of bare earth and nothingness. The local cats, of whom there are many, will love it.
So please, any advice? I know I need to finish weeding it, but at this time of the year, what can I plant there or what can I do to make it look ok?
I know almost nothing about gardening, and I have two young DCS so not loads of time to spend on it. The garden is utterly north facing much sunlight.
Not much you plant now will cover the ground in the short term.
It won't look so nice, but covering bare ground with permeable black horticultural membrane (stops weeds and allows water through) may deter cats. Or a thick mulch of straw will keep the soil in better condition through the winter, but I can't guarantee cats may not find that attractive.
My cat seems to love pooing in mulch. I reckon it's like some kind of super-soft loo roll for then.
I find that sticking pea sticks in at regular intervals is an effective deterrent. You could do this around a number of ground cover plants that will thicken up next year. I guess you're probably looking for something evergreen and shade-loving? (Hard to tell from the picture!) There is a ground cover cornus canadensis that is rather attractive and semi-evergreen.
cats hate the smells of natural citrus oils, so litter the bushes and area with citrus peels on a regular, nearly daily, basis. That should hold them off until you know what you want to do.
To keep it less messy, collect lots of citrus peels in a fruit mesh bag (the ones that often hold satsumas etc) and hang around the spot that you want to preserve and a couple directly in the soil, and then later, when you are ready, the area is easy to clean up, by just collecting up the bags.