Garden looking a little shabby? Patio in need of some TLC? Try our 5 tips for the perfect summer garden, guaranteed to bring some love and happiness to your outdoor space this month…
1. Start with the basics
Before you get sidetracked looking at the latest outdoor projector screens (more on that below) and hammock sets, cast an appraising eye over your garden. Does the lawn need a mow or a treatment? Could the edges do with a neaten up? Dedicate a morning to attacking those weeds, decide whether there are any obvious gaps in your flowerbeds and get filling them with some colourful annuals. Container planting more your thing? There are all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas out there, from up-cycling old wine crates to the latest talked-about gardening trend: stuffing old jeans with plants (we kid you not, accompanied by the ultimate hashtag #plantsinpants). And remember, decluttering isn’t just restricted to the house – gardens are often a dumping ground for bikes, broken plant pots, old toys and tools, so give it all a good tidy and store what you think you’ll use, recycle anything you won’t and bin the rest.
2. Find the outdoor table and chairs
If everything goes to plan, you’ll be spending most of your summer evenings sipping Pimm’s and eating outdoors with friends and family. Whatever’s cooking on the barbecue, it’s worth investing in a decent table and chairs to really set the scene. Classic designs like these should stand the test of time. Unsure how big to go? A good tip is to measure out how much seating area you have, the same way you would when planning your indoor living space, and mark it out with chalk; make sure people have room to comfortably move their chair in and out from the table before pressing the ‘buy now’ button. If you’re tight on space, benches or picnic tables with brightly-coloured stools are a great solution, or for balconies or roof terraces, try a couple of smaller, low tables like this neat Fermob Luxembourg table rather than a single dining table. Made from a rust-free aluminium with a UV coating to prevent fading, they’re perfect for city balconies or roof terraces. Add the matching (stackable) chairs and you’re sorted.
3. Keep in the shade
Even the most devoted sun worshipper needs a bit of shade, especially during the hottest hours of the day. Number 3 in our tips for the perfect summer garden is all about creating decent shade. For a modern alternative to the parasol, try hoisting up one of Kookaburra’s tight weave sails. Providing decent UV protection from the sun (should it appear) and shelter should the heavens open (more likely), each sail comes with three ropes to secure it. Looking to inject a bit of fun? Try this Celeste Jalli print parasol from the Raj Tent Club – inspired by India, it’s covered in a jalli print that promises to bring an exotic vibe to even the most suburban of gardens. A freestanding, cantilever umbrella such as this Kettler parasol is another good bet. As well as allowing you to adjust the tilt and angle for the best shade, it comes with integral, solar-powered LED lights to keep your garden or patio party going from day to night.
4. Shine a light
Speaking of night, if you want to enjoy your garden after dark, then decent lighting is a must. A good electrician can set up outdoor lights on different circuits with dimmable fittings, making it easy to alter the mood from intimate dinner to party mode; a giant designer floor lamp like this adds instant wow factor but if you’re working on a smaller scale, then some solar-powered fairy lights are a simple, cost-effective way to add instant sparkle to trees, pergolas and parasols. If you prefer a softer approach, then candlelight is the answer. A good old-fashioned hurricane lamp is hard to beat (choose a citronella candle to ward of biting insects), or how about a candle bag for a pretty lantern-effect? Got any spare jam jars, coffee jars or pickle jars? Tie garden wire around the rim, pop a tea light in and hang it from any nearby branch to create the perfect, low-cost lighting solution.
5. Smarten up your act
Smart technology is everywhere, even in horticulture. How about a sprinkler system that gives you full control from your smartphone, or a robotic lawnmower that moves autonomously around your garden and ensures it stays looking trim all-year round (even if does cost more than most second hand cars)? Less practical but just as essential, is a decent portable Bluetooth speaker, preferably one that’s fully waterproof so you can carry on singing in the rain should the weather turn inclement. If you fancy turning your garden into an outdoor cinema, then most home projectors can also be set up outside; inflatable screens like this are great fun, but all you really need is a blank wall or, failing that, a plain white sheet, and you’re good to go. When you’re online shopping, don’t forget to check the projector’s lumen measurement – more lumens means it’s easier to see the projected image in bright conditions; go for at least 3000 for the authentic outdoor cinema experience. All you need now, of course, is the popcorn…and, ahem, the weather…
Which of our top tips for the perfect summer garden will you try first?