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Making the most of your garden
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Making the most of your garden

Summer is definitely here. How long it will last is anyone’s guess, of course, so we enjoy it while we can. Living in the UK can be very frustrating as we look at our garden through rain-splattered windows!

There are ways in which we can make the most of our outdoor space and make it usable for much of the year. This really does not have to cost lots of money; however, investing in a few items is probably money well spent, as it will enable you to be outside much more often.

You probably already have some furniture or seating outside; if not, there is a huge variety available, from table and chairs to sofas, loungers, swing seats and hammocks. If you are looking to buy some, keep an eye out for end-of-season sales; alternatively, there is usually a good choice of new or secondhand furniture on online auction sites, although it does get snapped up pretty quickly.

Make sure you look after wooden furniture. It will need treating every year and unless it is specifically designed to be ‘weather resistant’, you will need to cover it when it is not being used - especially in winter. If you have cushions and don’t have a shed or space indoors, why not buy a plastic garden storage unit to hold them?

Shelter and heating are key areas. People living in warmer climates often have an outdoor kitchen area, but this probably going a little too far for us in the UK! Gas patio heaters are an option, although they are not very energy friendly. Chimineas or fire pits, or even outdoor ovens, will provide warmth and even somewhere to cook. Prices range from £20 or £30 up to hundreds for a proper outdoor oven. Fire pits are becoming really popular and create a sociable centre point, whether for a summer barbecue or a firework display in winter.

A pop-up gazebo will also serve you well, as you can use it to keep people dry or keep them cool, depending on the weather. You can install a fixed canopy for a more permanent and more glamourous option, but really think about where you are going to position it. It might seem unlikely but a shaded area can be a welcome relief in the summer, particularly if you have young children.

The next step is lighting, which is vital in creating an atmosphere. Here you can really be creative. Fairy lights and candles look beautiful, but don’t offer much brightness. Solar power lights can be put in plant pots or along a path edge. Getting a power or lighting supply outdoors is worth considering if you are serious about using the garden a lot, as you can put a fridge outdoors in addition to having lighting. Speak to your local authority (LA) first, as you have to let it know if you are making changes to power or lighting circuit outdoors. You will probably need to get an electrician in to do the work, as strict safety standards must be met.

Don’t forget your actual garden; after all, you want something lovely to look at while you are out there! Ideally you want to create colour and interest all year round and this is not difficult or costly to achieve You will find lots of information and tips online, and nurseries and garden centres have knowledgeable staff who will happily give you advice. A few beautiful pots around your patio or decking will add instant appeal - you can even buy ready-planted ones if you wish. Herbs do particularly well in pots and have the added bonus of perfuming your garden.

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