How to Make the Most of your Garden this Summer

Thursday, 07 August 2014

Big or small, wild or carefully manicured, there's no end to the fun you can have in your garden this summer. All it takes is a little imagination and a love of the great outdoors.

Lawn games

If you've put the effort into perfecting your lawn, it'd be a shame to waste it. Polite Edwardian games like croquet and quoits are an excellent way to add panache to a picnic or garden party, although lively gatherings might be better suited to giant Jenga and Connect Four.

More than just barbecues

BBQs are a must in the summer, but rather than just grab the cheapest option or a disposable, invest a little extra to give your grill some pizzazz. Fire pits are a really fun choice, as parties can continue around the flames long after the last burger's been snapped up. Tripod barbecues are a great value alternative if you don't plan on hosting too many open-air dinners. And if your garden's smaller and you're more worried about your home insurance than your hot dogs, a Mexican-style chimenea is a stylish and safe option.

Al-fresco extras

It doesn't matter if you've fired up the BBQ or planned a picnic with Pimms, it's the details that make al-fresco dining special. Having a handy drinks cooler or an ice bucket around is a really nice touch, as are snazzy and easily stored garden stools, picnic hampers, chequered blankets and parasols. Combine the practical and the pretty to really impress your guests.

Herb gardens

Whether you want to add a garnish to your salads or grab some fresh mint for your mojitos, a herb garden is a summer addition you'll thank yourself for time and time again. Flowering herbs like lavender also create a lovely summery smell, and will be a welcome spot of sustenance to passing bumble bees.

Fragrant flowers

A riot of colour is delightful when you're looking at it from inside the house, but a great garden should be a treat for all the senses. Oriental lilies, lilac, roses and gardenia are all excellent options. The lilac will also attract butterflies, while honey-scented plants like buddleja draw moths, which bring the bats in for some twilight acrobatic displays.

Bird baths and feeders

The final piece of the sensory puzzle is birdsong. A bird bath (or pond) and a squirrel-proof bird feeder will tempt feathered friends. And if you're really adventurous, add bug houses to get a whole ecosystem flourishing in your garden.

Cultivated shady areas

It's all well and good having the sun loungers and deck chairs out in scorching weather, but one mistimed nap or an engrossing book too many and you'll be looking to sooth your skin under the shade. Investing in a stylish parasol is an option, but using climbers to grow a shaded arch, or pruning shrubs and trees to offer a canopy to singed sun-lovers will bring a lot more to the table.

Night lighting (and heating)

The final thing to remember is that you won't want to head indoors on summer nights, so add a few solar lamps and a patio heater to keep you warm when the temperature begins to drop.
 

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