When summer rolls around, everyone wants to get outside so they can really enjoy the warm summer sun and the parts of nature that we don’t get to see for the rest of the year. But it can sometimes be difficult when you’re surveying your outdoor space: it looks like a jungle – what if you lose your dog in the long grass? Or, worse yet, your toddler? – and your blissful thoughts of enjoying a cool glass of white wine at dusk start to evaporate. But there are some ways that you can enjoy your garden this summer – here are some tips to help out.
A lot of us tend to view gardening as ‘what my dad started to grudgingly do after he retired’, but the truth is that it’s actually an incredibly calming and enjoyable thing to do no matter what age you are. There’s something that’s really beautiful about seeing the results of your hard work grow and creating beauty in your outdoor space – and there’s something even better about nibbling on strawberries and tomatoes that you’ve produced yourself, and admiring that first vase of homegrown sweet peas.
It can be very tempting to simply cover the back garden in paving slabs or fake turf – and this can actually often be a great option if you’re short on time and you want a garden that’s low maintenance. But if you have the willingness, time and energy to spend on your back garden, it’ll be worth it for those summer months that you get to spend outdoors enjoying it.
If you’re starting from scratch, first of all get that wild grass mown and your borders dug out so that the soil is fresh. Then take a good look at the sun and how sunlight goes through your back garden during the day. Most fruit and vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight a day, so if you want to plant them, figure out where the most sunny spots are. Add some good quality compost to the areas where you want to put in your plants, and do a bit of research as to what time of year you should be putting those plants in. Remember that if you have a mostly paved area, pots of flowers and herbs are a great way to go.
If you don’t have much time and you just want your garden to look nice over the summer, first of all start weeding – weeds love the sun and will somehow miraculously grow from tiny things to Jack and the Beanstalk type vines the second your back is turned. Cut the edges of your lawn to make them look fresh and crisp, and plant some temporary bright plants like pansies, primroses and violas to make sure that your garden looks fresh and cheerful if you’re planning to have guests over to enjoy it. Just make sure that you water them every day so they stay pretty for as long as possible!
Consider A Few Home Improvements
During the winter, you might not notice that the outside of your house is starting to look a bit sad and faded – let’s face it, when it’s cold outside, you’re mostly just focusing on not dropping your keys in a puddle instead of taking a look at the state of your paintwork. But when you spend some time outside over the summer, you might notice that your house is starting to look a little dilapidated. And during the time of year when it’s least likely to rain, why not try to fix that?
It’s easy to slap another coat of paint on the outside of your house, and easier yet to hire someone to check your roof to make sure that your tiles and slates are firmly in place. Of course, it’s possible to do that yourself – but when hugely tall ladders are involved, it’s usually a good idea to get the professionals in, particularly as you’ll want their expert eyes to make sure that your home won’t spring a leak when winter rolls around again.
There are some small renovation projects you can do to give your home a little more curb appeal – which means to make it look more appealing to people wandering by. This is a particularly great thing to do if you’re thinking of selling any time soon! If your front door sometimes gets stuck or it’s starting to look old-fashioned or out of date, why not replace it? It’s the equivalent of buying a really excellent new lipstick – it’ll brighten up the front of your home and change the dynamic of your whole house. If you’re not sure what sort of door to go for, why not try a composite one? You can find a composite door quote online – they’re particularly good because they’re made out of different materials, meaning that the best factors of each sort of material are represented. They also don’t require much upkeep in the future.
You could also add a little covered area in front of your door. This will make your home look cosy and attractive – and it will also absolutely help you when the winter comes and you’re trying to get inside without getting absolutely drenched by the rain! You can also hang lanterns off porches, and even hanging baskets with flowers in. If you like the look of flowers and plants on the outside of your house, you could also go for some window boxes. They’re easy to upkeep and maintain, and of course they look extremely pretty.
Throw A Perfect Summer BBQ
First of all, don’t panic: we all know that summer BBQs are surprisingly stressful. It’s hard to get enough seating, to make sure that the food doesn’t go off in the summer heat, to make sure that everybody’s getting along, to ensure that nobody dies of food poisoning thanks to undercooked chicken… but it’s important to do your best to enjoy it as much as you possibly can. After all, it’s your party – you should be having a blast too!
First of all, prep your BBQ. Good quality charcoal is essential – try out lumpwood charcoal, as it’s all natural and will give your food a good flavour. Likewise, wood chips from fruit trees will add some great extra taste to your meat. Secondly, do as much food prep beforehand as you can. It’s no good just ripping open packages of food and throwing them on the grill – do some marinating beforehand. Add olive oil, chunks of garlic, lemon juice, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper – although obviously not all at the same time! And remember that you don’t just have to consume a ton of meat. Fish also works great – why not try grilled trout or salmon? Prawns marinated in chili and garlic are quick and easy to cook. And as for vegetarians, there’s much more out there than dry veggie burgers – you could try halloumi burgers, and roast skewers of vegetables like peppers, courgettes and aubergines, along with ripe baby tomatoes.
Don’t forget side dishes! Potato salad, grilled corn on the cob, coleslaw, tossed green salad, chips and dip – they all make great additions to BBQs. And it’s also important to remember that you can make dessert on the grill – put bananas and strawberries inside foil with some orange juice and cook until it’s delicious and fragrant.
What About Really Small Spaces?
Of course, not everybody has a big back garden to enjoy over the summer, meaning that it may be harder to entertain guests and hold outdoor parties. If you have a small balcony rather than a large outdoor space, chances are you’re already making great use of your local park – but this summer, why not use your own space too, by putting comfortable chairs out there with weather-proof cushions? Burn citronella candles to keep the bugs away as you eat outside there in the evenings. You can add fairy lights and small lanterns to create an intimate, sparkling space that you can enjoy, along with bamboo screens and shades to create an illusion of privacy.
It’s also a great idea to add some plant pots – fresh herbs are always a great addition to any home, so why not go for pots of mint, rosemary and basil? It will feel great to use them in your cooking, and a bonus is that they look pretty as well. Invest in some evergreens so that your outdoor plants don’t only look good over the summer.
It’s a good idea to think of your balcony as a sort of extension of your indoor space, so it’s important to put your mark and your style into it. Think how you want to use this space: whether you want to sit outside with a book and a cup of coffee, if you want your kids to use the table out there as an art space, if you want it to be a small green paradise. Once you decide what you want from that balcony, it will be easier to create your ideal outdoor space.
Your outdoor space should be just as important as your indoor space this summer – consider how you want to utilise it, use these tips to spruce it up, and then relax and soak up those rays!
This is a contributed post.