Well let’s not beat about the bush, pardon the pun, but most of us will still be unlikely to be visiting the Alhambra this year or any other overseas paradise for that matter. There is every likelihood that you will be spending most of your summer holidays in your own back garden. But don’t be too down in the mouth about it, just think of all the money you will be saving! Instead why not make the best of this unusual situation and use some of these savings on making your own garden even more splendid, a place where you can relax and enjoy nature at the same time improving the ‘curb appeal’ and value of your property. Create an investment that you can enjoy for years to come.

Terra Firma

 

First of all, it is important that you identify the scale of your outdoor living project. Are you content to create a small space to place a couple of bistro chairs and a table or will you be going for something larger scale? Once you have decided this you have to choose the substrate. Grass is okay but usually is a little uneven for tables and chairs legs have a tendency to sink into the lawn. There are many ways to go about creating a patio area ranging from having a local contractor, or yourself if you need a spring project, to build a garden feature from brick, stone or patio slabs. This will create a surface that will be stable and mud free. Your patio need not be backed up against the house, if space allows you could create a ‘secret garden’ in a more secluded area away from the eyes and ears of your neighbours. A less labour intensive project would be to build a deck using wood or interlocking composite deck tiles which can be taken up in the winter or even taken with you should you move.

Fire and Water

 

People are attracted to these two vital elements and so a water feature or a fire feature will produce a comforting ambience to your outdoor space. Water features come in all shapes and sizes from tiny table top rock cairns with a water fall, a bird bath or a full blown pond complete with pumps, fish and lilies. Whatever you choose the water will create interest and soothing sounds. Fire comes more into play in the evenings, deterring mosquitoes, and providing warmth and light. Sit around a fire pit and roast some marsh mallows or you could get a barbecue and cook dinner in the coolness of the outside. Tiki lamps, lanterns and candles are another attractive sources of light that will create ambience and some citronella products will keep the bugs away. Fairy lights strung in the trees can look amazingly pretty, as do lights along the walk ways and these days there are loads of really good solar options so no need to worry about having electricity installed. The same goes for music, a blue tooth chargeable speaker can complete the vacation feel with music streamed from your phone or tablet.

 

Bring the Inside Out

 

You don’t need to buy special garden furniture, you can use a small kitchen table or a light dining table brought out from the inside. Toss a retro table cloth on top to create a fabulous boho look. Same goes for chairs, mix and match to add to the al-fresco experience, just don’t forget to bring them in at the end of the evening. Outdoor foldable furniture can be packed down when not in use, which is especially useful in a small space, opening it up for other uses when you are not dining. Maybe swap the table and chairs out for sun beds to take advantage of those afternoon rays? Outdoor furniture comes in rattan, wicker and the more durable rattan-effect PU, iron or wood.  All are quite weather resitant and can remain outside for most of the year. Dining and sunbathing are two aspects of your outdoor space but there are many options for sitting. Rattan-effect PU sofas and corner groups with comfortable cushioned seating  upholstered in weatherproof and water resistant fabrics, come in an array of colors and configurations. These provide a fantastic outside grouping where you can sit and read a book, do a little work and maybe one day entertain friends when we are allowed!

 Give Me Shelter

 

Protection from the sun is all important even if you do want to get a tan. A wooden gazebo can be simply built. Toss some leafy branches on top to proved some shade a la the Mediterranean, or roll out some bamboo fencing on top. Both can be removed in the winter to prevent snow or frost from building-up, causing excessive strain on the structure. A grape vine will also create dappled light and might also give some fruit in the summer. Metal gazebos are quite inexpensive these days and some come with a canvas roof for complete cover… and if none of those tick all the boxes for you, then a central table umbrella is probably the easiest way to go.

Adding the Bells and Whistles  

 

Paying attention to the final touches will complete your wonderful outside space. Wind sculptures, meditation bells and wind chimes add a charming dimension of colour, sound and movement to your outdoor room  and at no extra cost as they are designed to harness the energy of the slightest breeze.  Hanging a mirror from a tree or on a fence to reflect light and greenery will make the space feel bigger and more interesting. Ornaments can also add emotion… a Buddha to add calm and a gnome or fairy for a touch of whimsy.  Finally don’t forget the birds and the bees! Bird tables, feeders and nest boxes will provide hours of entertainment and a solitary bee home will make sure that your garden stays pollenated and as sweet as ever!

Bon Voyage!