Garden

Garden ready for Summer fun

If it feels like winter’s never going to end, then it might be time to start thinking and dreaming about the summer that’s right around the corner.

Cold, chilly nights will soon be replaced by long, warm evenings. But how ready is your garden for hosting BBQs and keeping guests entertained? It’s time to talk summer transformation.

bbq food cooking

Hard area

If you’ve got a patio or decking you’re going to need to start by weeding and cleaning your wood or stones. A few months left exposed to the elements will have taken their toll and led to some discolouration so consider turning the jet hose on it to blast through dirt and grime and lift off those stuck on leaves.

Tackle The Lawn

If the seasons haven’t been kind to your grass, then there are several options you can consider. Start by sowing grass seed to adequately fill in any gaps. Make sure that your lawn is properly draining by going over it with an aerator and backfilling with seed. Cut back shorter in the summer to allow more water to penetrate below the surface and keep your lawn in tip top condition.

If it all looks like too much, then you could go down the artificial route. With plenty of shades and tones to choose from, you’ll be able to pick a colour that you love and all with practically no upkeep, bar the need to sweep away debris and hose away dirt. You may be able to install the grass yourself if you area is small enough, otherwise call in the professionals to do it for you.

On the other hand, you may decide that a country meadow look is going to be this spring and summer style. While the plan might be to let your grass grow a little longer, you can still control what’s growing by weeding and introducing some beautiful wild plants.

Do your bit for the ecosystem by introducing plants that attract honey and bumble bees, butterflies and insects to turn your outside space into something of a haven for nature. Complete the look with plenty of hanging food for birds to find in any surrounding trees you have.

If you have a pond in your garden, now is the time to give it a thorough clear out. If you can, drain it and give the casing a good scrub with specially formulated cleaner that won’t upset any fish you have in there. Check that any water pumps are still functioning properly and refill, ready to reintroduce your wildlife and pond plants.

Update Your Furniture

Metal garden furniture can also show the effects of a cold winter and unless you have space to store them in a shed or garage, chances are they might be showing signs of rust and general wear and tear. You might consider changing up to rattan or a manmade substitute that will prove a little hardier and has the benefit of being able to drain water easily. Upgrade your garden furniture with a whole new look, including a new dining table, chaise longues and so on.

You’ll be able to buy all manner of accessories to make your summer go with a bang, from an outside pizza oven that can also act as a source of heat to a thoroughly modern, fully functional BBQ set complete with hotplates and so on. If you’re going to do BBQ season, you might as well do it with the best piece of kit on the market.

Plants

Don’t forget your planting scheme. Fill those borders with bright, low maintenance flowers and shrubs that fill your garden with colour and scent. You don’t have to be a gardening expert to produce something impressive, but just ask for recommendations for low hassle flowers at your local gardening centre and you’ll be able to impress everyone with your style. Choose plants that attract wildlife and you’ll soon have a garden complete with a cacophony of buzzing sounds.

Light Up The Party

garden fairy lights

From fairy lights to security lights, you need something to keep the party going. If you prefer a more natural look then go for the option of candles aplenty to create an atmospheric, chilled outside experience. Or opt for low key lightings, like the hanging fairy light options that can be dimmed right down and placed to illuminate more subtly. Why not bring a little extra heat to the garden with a gas heater that combines impressive warmth with a subtle downlight.

You also have the option of solar lights that can be placed at strategic points around the garden and that will glow as the sun sets, using up the energy they’ve stored during the day. A cost effective method of bringing attention to the parts of the garden you’re proud of.

Summer is right around the corner, so whether you’re planning on giving the garden a complete makeover or just a spring clean, start now and get your green spaces in perfect shape for a summer of entertainment and fun.

Why not treat your younger guests and members of the family with some outside toys. A trampoline always goes down well, as does a swing set. If you have the space, then bring out those garden cricket and tennis sets and throw up a badminton net between a couple of trees, or better still a hammock.

Start with a general tidy up, getting your grass cut to the right length. Give your hard surfaces a once over so they’re shining clean and ready to take new furniture. Treat yourself to a new set and get rid of anything rusty and old that doesn’t go with your overall look. Then you’re ready to road test that new BBQ. Give the chef in in your life a new set of BBQ utensils and they’ll be raring to get it fired up.

Then all that’s left to do is lay back on your new recliner, cocktail in hand and listen to the sound of the birds and bees taking advantage of your newly planted borders and enjoying the garden almost as much as you.

How To Make Your Garden Truly Stand Out

Our garden space has a unique place in our lives. For many it becomes the one space they can truly unwind, escape the pressures of an always-on, digital world and rediscover the very elemental joy of growing things and reconnecting with the natural environment.

From a small balcony lovingly tended with flower boxes and potted plants, to a small backyard with potential, making the most of your outdoor space can be a real life enhancer in many ways. Sometimes knowing where to start is the hardest part – but if the recent RHS Chelsea Flower Show has you inspired to get a little more green fingered, these botanical ideas could pep up your garden space in time for the rest of the summer.

english country garden gate

Try Installing A Living Fence

If you need to section off an area or screen something unsightly that you can’t get rid of, considering softening things with a ‘living fence’. This involves installing a framework of trellising or woven material like willow, and training climbing plants to grow up it. The variants best suited to this are super pretty and also happen to smell fantastic – wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle,  passionflower. They can add an ambience to a disused corner and make it the most beautiful spot to sit and have coffee. If you plant wildflowers, you can also attract bees and butterflies, introducing more eco-diversity. Modern vertical irrigation systems can help in challenging corners – almost anything can be masked with a bit of careful planning.

Mix Up Traditional Planting Schemes

Traditionally, we’re taught to keep our vegetables as well segregated as possible from our flower beds, but re-wilding calls for a much more haphazard approach. There are many positive benefits to flora and fauna when you mix and match, as it makes your garden prime territory for pollinators. With more of a succession of flowering periods, pollen and nectar are available to insects throughout the entire growing season, not just within a small window. Flowers complement herbs too, so mix in lavender with sage, chives and mint and the odd curveball such as artichoke that’s been left to flower. It’s a piecemeal process of discovery, but that’s precisely what’s so wonderful about it.

Invite The Wildlife In

Making your garden attractive to local wildlife is a beautiful thing to do – it can help redress the urban sprawl which has unbalanced the natural environment a little and add a whole new dimension. Even the smallest of outdoor spaces offers a big variety of habitats for wildlife to flourish. Borders, fuelled with flowering plants and shrubs produce nectar which can nourish butterflies and bees as well as cover for birds and small animals. If you’re into bird baths, they can make a beautiful feature and attract feathered friends. Natural roosting and nesting sites are becoming increasingly hard for birds to find, so your garden could supply an ongoing safe haven, as well as being filled with the beautiful sound of bird song.

Enhance Your Outdoor Dining

As most gatherings revolve around food, think outside the box when it comes to providing for your guests. Rather than simply wheeling the barbecue out, what could you do that’s more inventive? Pizza ovens are gaining in popularity, and with such a wide range of models from moveable stainless steel ones that wouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant kitchen to clay and brick tabletop ovens that are less intrusive, your friends and family could soon be enjoying this tasty, customisable, easy to throw together treat. If you use your garden for al fresco dining a lot, you could also consider an outdoor kitchen, with a full weatherproof setup, or a repurposed armoire to hold plates and cutlery.

garden planters hanging on a blue wall

Think About Surfaces

When creating a social space, there are lots of ways to add dimension. Adding in a multi-level patio can combine flexible seating with an inviting situation to sit and drink a glass of wine or two, while raised decking from a set of patio or bi-fold doors can help to bring the indoors outside and create a seamless transition between the inner and outer space of your home. Also, take the opportunity to make sure that your lawn is in tip-top condition. Using a professional maintenance firm makes sense if you have a large grassed area that needs maintaining or a yearly check to keep it in the best condition.

Add Some Statement Planters

If you really want to add a talking point into your garden space, look out for unusual items to repurpose as planters. You can really create some amazing displays if you think outside the box. From old enamel bathtubs overflowing with lavender plants to brightly painted discarded tyres stacked up, it’s a chance to recycle and add impact to your outdoor space. Even a quirky collection of old teapots, or simple potted plants displayed on a wooden step ladder can look amazing. Get onto Pinterest for garden planter inspiration to get you started.

Revamp Your Seating

Where people sit is an essential element in how comfortable they will be, so pay attention to all the different kinds of seating you can add to your garden for different experiences. A rustic table under a beautiful pergola thick with climbers like wisteria, honeysuckle or passionflower is served well by long benches that don’t restrict the number of guests you can invite. A waterside deck may suit reclining wooden lawn chairs for relaxing in on a sunny day. A bistro set can be placed in a little sun trap area outside the back door where you can sit for coffee in the morning. If you want your guests to be truly comfortable shaded circular daybeds are all the range and provide ample opportunity for a leisurely chat.

From small additions to grand new designs, making your garden a truly beautiful and unique place is as complex a task as you make it. Whether it’s just a few small additions or a complete revamp, adding a spark of creativity can reconnect you to the great outdoors and give a whole new dimension to your home.

4 wonderful benefits of eating home grown & organic

We’re all told that we should eat more fruit and vegetables. We’re constantly reminded that we need to cut back on processed and prepackaged foods (and for the sake of budgeting it’s probably a good idea to cut down on the takeaways too). Yet while this is ostensibly good advice, it overlooks a fundamental truth. A lot of the veggies and fruits we see on the supermarket shelves are not as nutritious as they could be. Thankfully under EU regulations genetically modified (GMO) crops are largely kept off British plates although meat eaters may eat animals that have been raised on GMO crops like corn or soybeans. What’s more, this regulation may change after Brexit and result in an influx of genetically modified veggies.

home grown carrots

Nonetheless, the fact remains that many of the fruits and vegetables we see on supermarket shelves are grown for their marketable appearance rather than their nutritional content. They can be treated with harmful pesticides or grown with harsh chemical fertilisers and all these things can have a range of implications for your health. When you switch to home grown and organic veggies, you benefit in a number of big ways…

It can save you money in the long term

Growing your own veggies and fruits may require some initial outlay but even if you don’t have a garden you can still self grow. A window box is enough to grow herbs and some vegetables and if you feel like trying your hand at hydroponic vegetable growing visit Essex Hydro Gardens. A modest setup can see you grow all kinds of veggies for years, thereby saving you money in the long term.

It’s potentially more nutritious

Home grown and organic veggies have the potential to be way more nutritious than their counterparts which are bred for appearance over nutrition. Grown in contaminant free soil and without harmful pesticides, your home grown and organic food will provide much more nutritional content than supermarket produce, saving you money on vitamin supplements which simply aren’t necessary when you eat organic.

What’s more, the longer produce sits on the supermarket shelf, the more its nutritional content starts to dwindle. Growing your own produce allows you to pick it and serve it straight away for maximum freshness and nutritional value.

It’s way better for the environment

Growing your own produce or buying produce from organic farms that use sustainable methods is a more sustainable and responsible consumer choice. It’s a choice that takes money out of the coffers of industrialised farming and votes with your wallet for a more sustainable future. What’s more, growing your own produce is one of the most eco-friendly ways of feeding yourself there is.

It just tastes better

Finally, organic and home grown produce just tastes better. It’s the sensory equivalent of watching a film in 4K UHD as opposed to an old VHS with wonky tracking. Organic foods taste fresher and more vivid whether you eat them raw or use them in recipes. It’s the difference between eating your food and enjoying your food!