As lockdown restrictions continue to ease and we approach Midsummer’s Day (21 June) and longer daylight hours in summer, getting your garden summer ready is at the top of our list of priorities. Spending time in your garden is a great way to enjoy the fresh air and some much-needed relaxation time. And as the warmer days approach, now is the perfect time to think creating your own outside retreat.
Remember that you want to treat your secluded spot as a digital-free zone and as somewhere to relax and de-stress away from gadgets and screens; this is crucial to boost happiness and wellbeing.
Even the smallest outdoor space can be transformed. Whether you have a patio, balcony or garden, there are several easy ways to create a stylish space on a budget. From updating the garden shed or creating a small seating area, to adding potted plants or utilising a corner of the garden, we give you our tips for transforming your outdoor space.
Choose your spot
Ideally, choose an area that catches the sun for the best light. Next, clearly define the space using the seating, flooring or large pots, as this will give the area structure and a definite ‘extra room’ feel. If you are using a wall or garden fence, you could add artwork (metal or stone is best to withstand the elements) to further enhance the feeling of an extra room. Don’t forget to add some form of shade for hot days; a canvas awning or sail shade are inexpensive, yet stylish options.
Patio or paved area
If your garden is paved or has a patio, consider creating a cosy nook in a sunny corner. Wooden crates or pallets are an affordable way to create a seating area. Add plenty of cushions, throws and candle holders for evening lighting to create the right ambience.
Pot plants will add greenery and instantly transform a paved area. And why not add a hammock to a corner as a fun place to enjoy some evening reading?
Transform the shed
The humble garden shed can be easily updated to create a retreat, but this does mean you can’t use the shed for storage.
Firstly, deep clean the shed to get rid of any dust and cobwebs, and clean the windows, inside and out. Paint the walls bright white, hang bunting and fairy lights, and add seating (bean bags or garden chairs) together with cosy throws or cushions.
The garden shed will become a place you never want to leave.
If you are in a hurry to get your garden pristine looking and summer ready, laying turf is a brilliant way to achieve a fantastic lawn quickly. When it comes to getting a thick, healthy lawn, nothing beats a lush green carpet underfoot. Sure, it costs a bit more but lay it right and in a couple of weeks you’ve got a dense, well-established lawn that’s naturally resistant to weeds, diseases, and pest infestations. So when you’re looking at the price of laying turf remember that you’re buying yourself time and convenience.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on outdoor furniture. In fact, achieving a shabby-chic look is all about using second-hand or upcycled items wherever possible. Wooden crates make excellent coffee tables, sand down and repaint any old garden furniture, and look for second-hand decorative items such as lanterns or rugs. You could make your own bunting and soft furnishings (such as cushions and throws) and design your own artwork if you’re a keen crafter.
Soft lighting is a key to creating the most ideal outdoor space; it’s all about creating the right ambience and being enveloped in a soft glow, rather than using harsh or bright lights. Strings of fairy or festoon lights, draped artfully, provide a subtle yet stylish back drop. Add candles to the table and choose an array of candle sizes and styles, avoiding anything too matchy-matchy. You can also get outdoor solar-powered fairy lights, which come on automatically when it gets dark and will glow for several hours.
Use elements of the natural world throughout, such as wood, woven/jute rugs, rattan and wicker furniture, faux-fur throws, cotton, stone, leather and linen. Keep colours muted and neutral, such as whites, greys and beiges, as these won’t overpower the final look. You can add accents of colour in soft furnishings and artwork as a subtle hint.
Update a balcony
Adding fairy lights, a small table and chairs, candles and bunting will make your balcony the envy of your neighbours. Pot plants can give an inexpensive yet instant uplift and make you feel more immersed in nature. Stick with hardy, easy-to care-varieties, such as ivy, cactus, ferns and succulents.
Get creative with how you style your plants; an old step ladder can provide great shelving to display plants in a stylish way, for example. You can also grow culinary herbs (rosemary, mint and sage) on a sunny balcony in zinc pots, which look decorative and are useful for cooking.