Making the Most of your Garden this Summer

Although the great British Summer is notoriously unpredictable when it comes to the weather, the warm, sunny spells we’ve been having recently does give us a chance to make the most of our garden or outdoor space, whilst we can.  Due to being neglected during the winter months and the lack of sunshine we get in the summertime, many people are unsure how to make the most of their gardens when it begins to warm up. The thought of cutting bushes, potting plants and mowing lawns can be pretty daunting to some and many of us don’t have the money to go all out on the garden furniture, the built in BBQ’s and the hot tubs, but there are definitely simpler ways of enjoying the outdoors during a rare bit of British heat.

 

Dining Alfresco

No matter how big or small your garden is, when the sun is shining there is nothing better than taking your dinner to eat outside, with a nice cold drink. Whether you set out the table with a range of salads, cold meats and bread, or simply just cook your dinner inside and bring it out, there is something about dining alfresco that soothes the soul. If you haven’t already, it is definitely well worth investing in some garden furniture. It doesn’t have to break the bank, it can even be a simple little wooden or plastic set for two, but sitting out and eating at night, or enjoying a nice brew in the fresh morning sun is definitely a great way to utilise your outdoor space.

BBQ Time

BBQ it up

Following on from my last point, eating outside in the warm weather is a dream, and cooking in it is also a great change. You might already have a fancy BBQ where you can cook all kinds of fancy and yummy meats and fish, but even if you just buy a small, disposal one and cook a few sausages, it still counts! Everyone loves a hot dog so bbq’ing on a budget can be a simple task and a great excuse to get the family and friends together. ‘Build your own buns’ are a great, purse-friendly way to feed the five thousand. Cook a load of sausages on the BBQ, give everyone a hot dog bun and set out different ‘stations’ for the toppings (onions, mustard, ketchup, beef chilli etc). Fill a bucket with some ice and beers and voila! Everyone is happy – except maybe the veggies but there is always Quorn for that!

Get the Essentials

One of the great things about hot, summer days is sitting out late into the night and it still feeling warm (ish). However, if you want to make a habit of this (or do it as often as possible) there are some essentials that you will need to invest in. First of all, some outdoor lighting, from fitted lights with sensors to solar powered lamps, your lighting options depend on your budget and the size of your garden – so get researching! Secondly, small, mini fire pits are a great way to keep everyone outside once the sun goes down. You can buy them from major supermarkets for next to nothing and sitting around a campfire either toasting marshmallows or playing a few games is a welcome change from the TV indoors! Thirdly, bug spray – because they always try to spoil the fun.

Grow some Goodness!

You don’t need a huge space to grow a little of your own fruit and veggies this summer. A lot of us have been meaning to try this for ages but never get round to it – so now is your chance! Find a raised patch of soil and get planting some summer seeds. Nothing more rewarding than enjoying a salad with tomatoes you’ve grown yourself or a crumble with freshly picked raspberries and blackberries! You’ll be a domestic goddess in no time.

Outdoor Games

If you have grass in your garden, there is nothing better than a few good old fashioned games with family and friends to while away the hours. The games you can play even with just a single ball are endless and I’m sure everyone will enjoy unlocking their inner child for a good game of Piggy in the Middle – especially after a few drinks! A cricket set or a Rounder’s bat also cos very little from budget stores and can provide hours of (competitive) fun. If you’re more civilised or simply a little restricted on space, a pack of cards outside is the perfect entertainment!

Garden Inspiration for Spring

I love being out in my garden, sitting and relaxing with a book, or enjoying a game of football with Joe. But after a Winter that saw some very cold days, and an awful lot of rain, it is safe to say that my garden entered Spring looking far from its best. It looked tired, messy, the patio was full of weeds, and the plants were non-existent. In addition, the patio was covered in broken plastic clothes pegs which had frozen and cracked, and a wrecked goal post that had seen better days. Work was required.

Broken Goal

Broken Goal and weeds on the patio

Empty and damaged pots

Empty and damaged pots

General view

General view

Ocean Finance have been asking people what they would do to improve their garden or outside space and make it Spring ready. I thought this was definitely a call to action that I should take part in, and so I made a trip to our local Garden Centre, Hollybush, to purchase plants, pots, soil and some solar lights to make a start on the bottom patio. We currently have two patio’s due to the size of our garden, the top has a shed and lots of Joe’s old outdoor toys, both are going to be replaced this year. If you have a smaller garden I love timber decking to create a patio, especially if you have patio doors that lead straight onto the garden. As our garden is totally separate from our house, patio tiles work well, but they are in desperate need of a jetwash, when the weather allows.

The inclement weather also means one of our big garden purchases is still sitting in a box. We got Joe a replacement goal so he could play matches, the hope was to set this up on Saturday afternoon, but the rain poured and poured. Just waiting now for the next dry Saturday to set this up!

But here is what we have been able to do so far.

Fence Planters

Fence Planters

New bed for Blue Irises - all planted and more top soil added

New bed for Blue Irises – all planted and more top soil added

Mini Daffodils, new planters. Large pots ready for min fruit trees.

Mini Daffodils, new planters. Large pots ready for min fruit trees.

So many pots and plants, each with a new Solar light

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New Plant Stands too.

New Plant Stands too.

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New Garden tools too.

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I am so pleased with the overall improvement, a little bit of weeding, getting rid of the rubbish and putting some new plants and pots in the space has made all the difference. I feel totally inspired to get in the garden, with the next step being to add some hanging  baskets to the yard area outside my front door.

So far, so good.

So far, so good.

What improvements are you planning on making to your garden this year – more flowers? New garden furniture? New decking?

Leave me a comment and let me know.

 

Making the most of your garden with a some footie fun

One of the best things about the arrival of Spring is the chance for Joe to play out in the garden, both after school and in the holidays. Joe is most definitely the sort of child who would be described as an ‘outdoorsy’ type, he likes all kinds of sports, running, climbing and riding his scooter. But the thing he loves doing most is playing with a football. The phase ‘football crazy’, may just have been made for him.

My football Mad boy

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At his football birthday party

Training with the Baggies

Training with the Baggies

Training with Darren Fletcher and James MacClean of WBA

Training with Darren Fletcher and James McClean of WBA

So, the return of the light nights and warmer weather also mean the start of the garden football season for my family. Joe already has his eyes on the new football that has been released for the Euro 2016 championship which starts in June, and the lawn has been mowed and the goals have been set up. We currently have one decent set of goals, and one small set that are going to be replaced next week (look out for the post on my garden improvements next week.)

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A good set of goals is a great investment if you have children who are football mad, whatever the size of your garden. If you have a large garden you can enjoy games, with a smaller garden they are still good for football practice, taking penalties, goal keeper practice, and they stop children firing the ball towards the wall of your house (and the windows of course.) QuickPlay Sport is a great destination to find good quality goals of all sizes, especially as they come with a 2 year guarantee on parts. They also have have a mobile training app that is great if your child currently plays for a team, because practicing is most definitely the best way to improve.

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Using your garden for sports and pastimes like football can help your children improve their skills and performance whilst having lots of fun in the process. It also means that your kids will be out in the fresh air actually participating in physical activity, rather than simulating it on FIFA 16 – and this can only be a good thing.