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 had last Summer, and also this April do 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 are often faced with, even in British 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 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 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.

Enjoy Some Fish

One way you could definitely improve the look of your garden is by adding a Koi pond. Koi are beautiful fish and a Koi pond is actually one way of owning pets that actually adds value to your home. But as well as this point, for those who have struggled with their mental health during lockdown, watching Koi and listening to the gentle movement of the water is actually a brilliant way to relax and de-stress.

This is not just an old wives tale, but one that doctors are now also alluding too.

Some doctors have begun to voice their opinions about the benefits of having a personal Koi pond. They have gained these opinions by witnessing improvements in such medical conditions as high blood pressure, anxiety disorders, and some heart conditions in patients known to have their own personal Koi pond. Stress can exasperate these conditions and doctors are always looking for ways they can recommend to their patients for reducing the amount of stress in their lives for better health. Doctors have even found that many stroke and heart attack sufferers recover sooner when they have an area they can access frequently for relaxation, such as with a Koi pond. – (from http://www.elertgadget.com/palert/the_benefits_of_koi_ponds_1120.htm)

If you decide to opt for a Koi pond, look to somewhere like Absolute Koi so you can sort all your Koi needs in one place.

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!

5 DIY ideas for your backyard this summer

Over the winter months, our backyards often become the forgotten piece of our homes. After all, nobody wants to go out and work on their yard in the cold, harsh depth of January or February when there is a warm house, steaming hot coffee and Netflix to catch up on.

Now that summer is on its way though, we’ll be spending a lot more time out in our backyards and before she gets here is the time to start getting them ready for the sunshine. From using old wine boxes to create a portable herb garden to turning tires into planters, here are five DIY ideas for your backyard this summer.

Use cinder blocks to create different garden walls and borders

The cinder block is one of the most underused items from the building world when it comes to the backyard. Not only can they provide a border between planting area and lawn, but they can also offer a space of their own in which to plant when turned on their sides. Simply fill the holes in the middle of each block with plants and you’ve got a living, growing garden wall or border.

Use old wine boxes to plant herbs in

If you like wine (who doesn’t?!), chances are you’ll have a few wooden wine boxes hanging around. Rather than throw these away, you can use them to plant herbs and spices in. Not only will this give you a rustic look, but once the herbs and spices have grown you can simply lift the box out of your garden and move it into the kitchen where you’ll have them on hand to chuck into any culinary delights that you are cooking up.

Turn old tires into planters

Take the old, worn tires that you used to have on your vehicle and are no longer road safe and recommission them in your backyard. You can paint them bright colors and then fill the inner of the tire with soil for planting. Anything can go in these unique plant pots, from vegetables to roses – My Gardening Network is full of planting ideas you my like. You can stack even stack them up to create a unique pile of plants.

Create a vertical garden

It only takes a hammer, a few nails or some screws to create a vertical garden. Take miniature lightweight plant pots and attach them to a wall or fence and you’ll soon have a garden that goes upwards rather than one that goes outwards.

Make a rain barrel to catch water

If you like having a pristine lawn that requires plenty of watering but at the same time are worried about the effects on the environment and drought that constantly turning to a hosepipe can cause, then here is one solution – your own rain barrel. They are simple to make, all you have to do is speak to one of America’s 5,000 breweries, a soup factory or any other business that might receive goods in a barrel and ask if you can buy one off them. Some will even give them away for free. Then simply cut the top off, place it in a suitable spot in the backyard to catch rain and all of a sudden, you’ve got a mini reservoir of natural water of your own from which you can water plants and grass.

 

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.