The Ultimate Summer Garden Guide

29th April 2019

In summer, your garden is the heart of your home. Friends, family, parties and good times, hopefully, plenty of memories too! In this guide, we’ll be going over how to really make the most of your garden space.

Note: We will not be going over how you should set out plants etc. We will be talking about furnishing your garden space and getting it BBQ ready!

Which Garden furniture do you need?

The planning is probably already well underway for your summer garden, but what are you going to sit on? What are your guests going to sit on? Do you plan on entertaining or just have the odd quiet night outside with a loved on?

You need to plan this in advance because if you do aim to have friends and family around, you will probably want a garden set of some sort. Rattan garden furniture is one that is hugely popular right now and strikes a wonderful mixture of amazing looks and comfort.

Maintain it well and it will last you many years.

If you don't plan on having many people around, then a simple take and a few chairs will probably suffice.

It all depends on the type of people you are and how much effort you plan on putting into making your garden the place for you this year.

Cleaning your garden ready for summer

When cleaning your garden you should consider the tools you’ll need for the job. For a starter, you’re going to want to be clearing the area your chairs will be.

If it’s a patio, you’ll need to jet wash it. If it’s a grassy area, rake it or grab yourself a leaf blower if you don’t already have one. You’ll want to trim hedges so they’re all in line and also trim your lawn.

If you have planted borders, weed them and get them looking nice.

Following these simple steps will get you on the way to a party-ready garden! At this point, you should be starting to lay out the foundations of your gardens party area.

You should dedicate a corner, roughly the size you need depending on how many people will be attending. If this is just for you to sit out with a book and relax then you shouldn’t need to too much space.

Lighting Your Garden

When lighting your garden there’s a lot of things to take into consideration. What part of your garden do you want to light? Here we will discuss how to safely light different aspects of your garden.

- Deck Lighting

Lighting your decking can look very nice but you need to do it tastefully.

You can’t put glaring lights pointing upwards as it will not only look distasteful but it will also begin to hurt people's eyes after a while.

To make the most of lighting your decking, the lights should be no more than 12v and we recommend that you use low power L.E.D lights.

- Lighting Paths and Driveways

Lighting paths and drives are pivotal to making your garden come to life at night. If you have a raised bed, then consider lighting the wall around the raised bed with spacings of 2-3 meters depending on how long your wall is.

This will project a dim light onto the surrounding floor area if you have raised beds all around your garden then this would look absolutely stunning!

If you have a path that goes through your garden, you could line either side of the path with the same spacings (2-3 meters) with either the same colour or different colours that go well together.

On the other hand, if you have steps of any kind then one on either side would look nice, you could even opt to have 3 per step, one on either side and one in the middle. Make sure the lights aren’t too big and aren’t too bright, we want out guests to make it to the top of the steps with their vision intact!

If you have any plants down paths then instead of having them next to the path, you could always put them in the flower bed to light up the flowers!
This will not only light up the path but also bring your plants to life at night!
And it also looks very nice…

To sum it up, there are two different tones that you can set for this area of your garden at night. You can have a focal point on the lights alone which will light up your garden and bring it to life, or you’ve got the dim solar panel lights that will create a relaxing and not too “in your face” atmosphere to sit out with a glass of wine and a book.

- Lighting Pergolas

There’s a multitude of different ways a pergola can be lit. From the ground, upward, with garden lights on its many beams or by uplighting it. So you don’t blind yourself and your guests, we recommend that you use quite low power bulbs, such as 20w or 35w when uplighting and downlighting.

Pergolas also make the most of natural daylight and if kept nice, you can also grow plants up to the framing of the pergola. If this is an option you decide to go with then you will have to keep it moderately trimmed so that it doesn’t start overgrowing into your seating area.

Pergolas also give you a certain degree of privacy if your garden is in a relatively open area.

- Lighting Arches

Arches add structure to your garden, they also add colour and create a gorgeous focal point for plants that you want people to see more than others!

There are a lot of designs that you can choose to go with, each setting a different tone to your garden.

  • Decorative metal arch - These are the strongest type of arch that you can go for and would suit a modern garden best. They are a great frame for growing roses and any other thorned plant! The thorny stems can be very easily tamed and tied into place.
  • Cottage garden wooden arch - These are the go-to for an old and romantic look. It has a very simple design and if you live in an area that gets very windy, then I’m afraid this isn’t for you as this is one of, if not the weakest arches on this list. This arch would work well if you’re growing anything thorned, or otherwise up against the side of it.
  • Contemporary wooden arch - This wooden arch differs from the cottage wooden arch as lengthways it is longer and has wooden beams going through the middle of the arch. With this arch, you’d really struggle to grow anything up the side of it, instead, you’d have to grow it over. An example of this would be to grow a “Wisteria”. It starts off strong from the ground, but the higher it gets, the thinner the branches get, this would bob and weave its way around the wooden beams nicely on its journey to meet in the middle with the other Wisteria!
  • Rustic Arch - This unique arch is hand-crafted from wood and is quite weak and nimble, with a weaved pattern. For this, you’d have to get something quite strong to grow up the side of it as it’d be difficult for weaker plants to climb due to the fact there’s not alot to hang onto apart from a gap around 6 feet up on most. This will also utilize daylight nicely.
  • Wall Arch - A wall arch would look nice on a path leading into your garden. It has a fixing on one side that you attach easily to your wall or fence and then stick into the floor on the opposite side of your path.

Arch with integral planters: This arch is different from the rest featured as it is completely free standing and relies on the weight of the compost in the baskets attached on either side for the plants to grow out of.

- Lighting Gazebos

Pop-up gazebos can stand on nearly every surface, to ensure that your gazebo will stand there are some accessories you’ll need, depending on the type of surface you’re standing you gazebo on.

But first you will need to know where is safe to pitch your gazebo because there are things you will need to know. In the table below, we’ll go over information about standing your gazebo and keeping it safe!

(Table courtesy of Galatent)

Different ways of using your gazebo

  • Slopes - If you’re using your gazebo on a slope it should have adjustable legs but make sure the slope isn’t too steep as it may be uncomfortable for those sitting under it for long amounts of time.
  • Hot tub cover - It’s also possible to use your gazebo over a hot tub if you want to sit in your hot tub without getting sunburnt. Depending on the type you get, you can also protect yourself from the elements and use it all year round.
  • Using over a BBQ - Doing this comes with a very obvious risk, that of fire. The only time you should use a gazebo over a BBQ is if that gazebo is at a safe height so that the heat can escape instead of getting trapped, or if you have water on hand (which you should anyway).
  • Using over a fire pit - Fire pits are a lot harder to control than BBQ’s. You should exercise a lot of caution if you decide to go with this option as the flames are very hard to control. Make sure you have a large water supply close by.
  • Use as a play area for children - Gazebos provide a lot of shade, making them a good play area so that children don’t get overheated during summer.
  • Cleaning your car  - If the weather outside is quite touch and go, then a gazebo is perfect as it’ll give you cover while you clean your car so that the inside of your car doesn’t get wet and neither do you!

- Lighting Shrub borders

Colour considerations are a very important factor when it comes to lighting your garden full stop. But in this segment, we’ll be looking at lighting just shrub borders. By choosing the right type of lighting for this area your shrubs and other plants can become a key part of bringing your garden to life at night. The key to bringing this part of your garden to life is the colour of plants and shrubs you choose. Try to avoid coloured lights, let the colour of your plants do the lighting for you.

You should try using spike mount exterior spotlights for this part of your garden as they stick into the ground and are easy to use because most of them are solar powered, in summer this will be perfect as you’ll be getting lots of light to charge them during the day and then when night comes you can leave them to light up the part of your garden that you want.

If you want to maximise the amount of colour coming off your plants then you should think of placing these lights in with your shrubs, pointing toward them but all in 1 central direction. Then when night comes they will emphasize the light of the plants.

Plants with strong leaf shapes can project a very funky shadow on the fences surrounding your garden, and sometimes even onto the ground and its surroundings in the tree.

If you have trees in your garden they can also be used up the side of your trees as well! This will set a calming tone for the rest of your garden whilst giving off an enchanting light.

- Lighting focal points for your garden

Choosing a focal point for your garden is pivotal in creating a general mood for your area. This is something you must put a lot of consideration into as it will create an overall discussion for the rest of your garden and you don’t want to set the wrong mood as it could ruin your gardens aesthetic completely!

You should also choose how you are going to be lighting, from the sides, from a light shining down or from spotlights on the floor.

These are all important considerations that you should take into account.

Different types of lighting include

  • Tree spotlights - attached to nearby trees
  • 12v Twin spike spotlights - standing on a base, 2 lights attached to a spike (free standing)
  • Twin wall spotlights - attached to a wall, sometimes with moveable lights.
  • 12v spike spotlights - same as the twin spike spotlights other than this one isn’t free standing and only has 1 light (perfect for sticking into the ground)

The intensity of the light is also a very important factor when lighting statues. You need to be able to make out features of the statue, so having a very intense light can ruin it completely.

Choice of lamp beam depends on the proximity of the light fitting to the statue. We recommend that you use 24w halogen power saver lights or 5w L.E.D lamps for up-close lighting.

For further away statues we recommend 35w halogen power savers or higher power 5-7w L.E.D lamps.

You could also consider narrow beams for highlighting certain aspects of your statue.

- Lighting your steps

For lighting your steps, we recommend that you use eyelid lights! These quirky little lights sit inside a small fitting on either side of your steps and illuminate the way up gently.

With some using a weak 20w dichroic reflector lamp or 2w L.E.D lamps, you can rest assured knowing these are the best you can get for lighting stairs of any kind!

The advantage to eyelid lights is that they hide the light source as you’re walking up the stairs so it doesn’t glare directly into your eyes and only lights the steps they’re placed on.

Using lighting for safety reasons is obvious. Whether you’re letting your dog out into the garden at night, or you’re taking a walk around there yourself, it’s very easy to lose your footing when going upstairs.

- Lighting trees

Uplighting on trees is the most common way to light trees. It not only makes the tree(s) a focal point but can set an atmosphere in your garden.

Another way you can light your trees is by attaching lights to your tree and having them light the ground around them - think of them as a natural lamp!

Keeping the creepy crawlies away

Next, we’ll be exploring different ways to keep mosquitoes and other annoying little critters away from your garden!

Probably the biggest single tip is to get rid of stagnant water.

It’s no secret that mosquitoes are attracted by moisture, and sometimes at summer, with your pool out etc, there’s no easy way to get rid of water. As long as it is being used, mosquitoes generally tend to stay away as much but once the water starts to sit and get warm and give off its own humidity, the mosquitoes make their move.

Some ways of reducing this include making sure any children's toys are dry. Check plates, under garbage and under flowerpots. “Something as small as a bottle cap can be a breeding spot for mosquitoes”, says Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist for the National Pest Management Association for the U.S.

If you can remove all these possible breeding spots from your house, you won’t have to worry about them moving into your garden!

  • Hire an exterminator - If you feel as if this could be an issue for you, you can always hire an exterminator. They can check drains for you, pipes and any other places that could possibly become prime breeding spots. If you happen to live in quite a humid environment naturally, you should probably look at replacing any broken or cracked window screens as these let humidity seep into them and hold it there!
  • Apply repellent - There are lotions and sprays that you can get that are safe for kids that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon or eucalyptus. These are best for keeping mosquitoes away, although over a few hours they’ll wear off so be sure to keep using it. Read instructions on the back of the bottle for usage, don’t forget that you can use it on kids over 2 months old. (Basically sun cream for mosquitoes!)
  • Cover your feet - Mosquitoes love sweat and any type of bacteria which make these a prime spot that you need to protect. A professor of epidemiology once said that mosquitoes generally tend to bite the lower half of the body and downward! So be sure to cover your feet or use repellent!
  • Choose the right apparel - Wear lightweight and light-coloured clothes and socks, making sure that they cover your arms and legs (you don’t have to but good luck to you if you choose otherwise!). Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours
  • Eat indoors when possible - During the day there isn’t really any issue with eating outside when the weather is nice, but as it starts to get later (3 pm onwards) you better eat inside as after 3 pm, the temperature starts to drop whilst the humidity will stay and mosquitoes will come out to say hello!
  • Spray repellent the day before - If you’re hosting a party, then the night before where the party is going to be you should look at spraying it with repellent to make sure there are no mosquitoes in the morning when you get up to spray again. We recommend you spray 24 hours beforehand!
  • Cover the patio - It may seem quite obvious but you should look at covering the area where your guests are eating. This will also eliminate any concerns that guests food may be sprayed with repellent and will help keep away bees and flies etc. It is also possible to get mosquito nets for your gazebo too!
  • Set out candles or lanterns - You can get mood lighting that not only keeps guests comfortable but also, some come with bug-deterring luminaria! If you’re having a party late into the night you should probably consider getting long life candles with wax that contains geraniol. Whichever sources of repellent you decide to go with, most of these products repel up to a 15x15 inch square foot area. If the packaging doesn’t tell you then use the information above.
  • Mosquito killer lamps - If you want your mosquito problem gone for good, then this is the way forward! Mosquito killer lamps emit a special UV light that the mosquitoes are attracted to, once they fly into it to land they get quite the shock to their system! Mosquito killing lamps are very inexpensive as you’re able to pick them up for around £20 - £30

Hot Tubs for your garden

Let’s talk hot tubs. Where to place them, what types you should get for certain occasions and when is best to use them.

- Take advantage of the weather

Depending on when you plan to use your hot tub you should plan strategically where you’re going to put it. If it is going to be used mostly in the winter then you should place it as close to your back door as you possibly can so that warmth once you get out is never too far away!

- Different Uses

If your hot tub is used mainly by yourself and your significant other then you might want to place it somewhere secluded in your garden for more privacy, whereas if it is used by your family then you might want it closer to a general gathering spot or the same as the segment above, near your back door.

- View from the tub

You might also want to consider the view from your hot tub. Make sure you’re not under a tree and if you run electricity to your hot tub then you should consider adding some outdoor lighting and music. If you really want, you could add landscaping such as plants and shrubs. Do whatever you see fit to create a calm and relaxing ambience.

- Which surface should you put your hot tub on?

Put your hot tub on a sturdy surface, i.e, a patio or decking. If you put it on your patio make sure it has either, cement pads, concrete pavers, or brick. If you’re building a new patio or deck then you could also integrate it with the design you have in mind. Your tub can be freestanding.

- Privacy

Patio coverings can give extra privacy, you can also place your hot tub next to your garden fence too! You can also think about placing a gazebo over your hot tub for all around privacy.

- Best time to use your hot tub

A large majority of people who own hot tubs agree that winter is the best time to use your hot tub, here are a few reasons why…

  • Appealing aesthetics - When the air is cold, you can see how warm your tub is, it makes it a whole lot more inviting! Once you’re in it makes you want to stay in for a little while.
  • Health benefits - Pleasure isn’t everything that hot tubs are good for. Winter is the best time to enjoy your hot tub as the cold air infused with hot water can relax your muscles. That sort of relaxation can tend to ease muscles, aches and pains as well relaxing can help to improve mental health.
  • Cold air and hot water - These two elements mixed together create the perfect contrast of comfort. To begin with, taking all your clothes off minus a bathing suit in the cold doesn’t sound too appealing but once you’re in the hot tub you’ll be thankful for it!You may think that when you get out you’ll be absolutely freezing but you probably won’t even start to think for it for a good few minutes as your core temperature rises to keep you nice and toasty until you get back into your house where hopefully it’s warm anyway!

Dip pools/Plunge pools

A dip pool is a small, shallow pool purpose-built for just dipping your feet in or just relaxing.

They’re more cost-effective than a full-size pool and take up less space. Don't expect to be swimming or diving into these...

Instead of swimming, they’re more used for lounging and cooling off. They use less water and cost less money to build, although they are still expensive.

Depending on what you want, you could still be into a pool of any sort for many thousands of pounds.

There are very distinct advantages and disadvantages to a dip pool. Let's discuss them:

Advantages
Dip pools don’t take up much space, If you’re looking for a pool when you have a small garden then this is definitely something that you should look into.

If you have a full family of 4 or more than 2 people will be using the pool, it won’t be very practical, this pool is designed for singles and couples in mind to create a small, personal space.

Disadvantages
The dip pool has very little in the way of utility that you can do in it. Don’t even think of getting a diving board installed!

Not good for families, as stated above, trying to fit 3 or more people in this pool comfortable would be a challenge.

Dip pools are, in some cases more expensive than normal size pools, starting at around £3,000 and some even as expensive at £13,000!

Fire pits for your garden

Fire pits in gardens have become ever more popular over recent years. As on cool nights they provide a warm and cosy place to sit under the night sky.

There is something magical about sitting around a fire with friends and family, perhaps with a few drinks - what an amazing way to end an evening.

So what are your options? What will you be looking for and what is going to work the best for your garden?

- Wood burning fire pits

Wood fire pits are great if you feel like having a campfire in your back garden and have a variety of different ways of fueling them!

One example of a wood fire pit is a Wood Burning Grill, they come in a lot of different shapes and sizes! These are usually used to cook on an open fire and generally tend to come with a grill that will attach to the top of it.

- Outdoor fireplaces

An outdoor fireplace (if you couldn’t tell) is very similar in style to an indoor fireplace, but outside. These will enhance the warmth of your patio and add an appealing aesthetic and overall warmth to your garden.

- Brick or stone fire pits

These are quite an easy DIY job if you’re feeling adventurous. They are very cheap to do, as all you really need to pay for is the bricks and wood.

They can be built using cinder-blocks, stones and bricks that you can get from any local hardware store.

While these types of fire pits are very nice to have, they can be quite an inconvenience as they do have quite high maintenance costs.

You’ll need somewhere dry and out of the way to store your wood, in some cases, you might even have to chop it yourself and the chances are, insects will be attracted to the wood.

If you are not planning on burning wood, you can always choose fire coals as an attractive substitute.

- Propane Fire Pits

Propane Fire Pits will undoubtedly become the focal point of your garden and are very convenient as you don’t have to refill them with wood, store the wood or chop it, there is also no need for refilling gel. Here are a few different styles of propane fire pits.

  • Portable Propane Fire Pits - Portable propane pits are very inexpensive, add a good ambience to your garden and also have cooking capabilities. It is designed to be able to be moved anywhere in your garden.
  • Copper bowl Fire Pit - Copper bowl fire pits are good because they’re made of out copper, copper has a high melting point and will take a long time to melt and thus will last longer.
  • Fire Pit Table - Lots of propane fire pits have table-like qualities. They also have a large ledge on the outside, these are good for resting drinks on as well as plates and food. They also stop children from getting too close to them.
  • Gel Fuel Fire Pits - Gel fueled fire pits are a great way to add an aura and ambience to your garden. The gel burns without creating smoke and a scent that wood fires create. Different types include gel fueled logs. These can be placed in any fire pit design, they create the realistic look of the fire and hide the gel fuel inside of the logs.
  • Tabletop fireplace - Made especially for people that only want a small fireplace in their garden. These go well on top of patio tables.
  • Natural Gas Fire Pits - It’s not a great idea to do this if you do not have the ability to get a natural gas line installed in your back garden. Similar to the propane design, natural gas fire pits are a permanent fixture in your garden and before going for this option you might want to design the rest of your gardens patio area around it as this will become the focal point, somewhere people will sit around with drinks and watch the sun go down on a late summers night.
  • Sunken Firepits- The sunken designed natural gas fire pit is built down into the ground. This would look very nice in a modern garden but obviously comes with some safety implications, especially around young children that are prone to wobble and fall around.

With regards to the gas line, they aren’t very expensive to have run but getting them fitted may be another story completely. You also will never be able to move the fire pit without a very big job on your hands.

If this is an addition that you’re serious about adding to your garden then there are plenty of landscape gardening professionals that actually specialise in digging out and building outdoor fire pits. If you’re feeling brave, you can even look at doing it yourself!

Which is the best BBQ for your garden?

There’s a wide spectrum of variables that contribute to making your outdoor dining space better, this segment will be comparing mainly gas and charcoal, with advantages and disadvantages to both.

- Gas Barbecue

Gas barbecues are a lot more convenient than any other type of barbecue as all you have to do to get started is turn a knob and press a single button, from there you can easily control the temperature that you cook at and how quickly you can turn it off.

Advantages

  • Clean, you don’t have to worry about getting black charcoal stains on your white summer clothes.
  • Very convenient
  • Easy to light
  • Temperature raises to cooking temperature very quickly.
  • Very easy to clean
  • The temperature of the grill is easily controlled.
  • Gas barbecues don’t reach a high temperature as they’re better suited for food that requires longer cooking times, i.e chicken.
  • Running out of fuel isn’t an option as it only takes a minute or so to change the gas bottle.

Disadvantages

  • Gas barbecues don’t give that deep BBQ flavour to the food cooked on them.
  • Gas barbecues also don’t reach very high temperatures that you need to get that lovely caramelised sear marks on the steak.
  • The gas canisters are very heavy compared to charcoal bags.

- Charcoal Barbecue

Charcoal Barbecues give a real “cooked over the fire” feel to them, the flavour given off is all natural and how the meat is supposed to taste, they’re also very inexpensive as you can get them for well under £100.

If you do barbecues once in a blue moon then you might even want to think about getting a portable charcoal barbecue that you can pick up from many stores for maybe £20.

Advantages

  • Portability, you can go out camping or you can enjoy your open fire cooked meal in your back garden. Either way, this a very cost effective way of having a barbecue.
  • Your charcoal barbecue can get up to over 300°C if you know what you’re doing, this is the perfect temperature for searing your Steak.
  • The flavour that you get from a charcoal barbecue is almost unparalleled. The BBQ taste on your meat without needing BBQ sauce is exactly what you get from charcoal grilling. It is often imitated but never duplicated.

Disadvantages

  • Inconvenient to clean. After almost every use, you’re going to need to clean your grill, after time, you get build ups of soot, grease and just general dirt and grime. One advantage of this is that there are no pots and pans to clean up. If the winds suddenly decides to pick up then you’ll also have dust and ash all over your patio or decking!
  • If you live in an apartment complex, make sure they allow charcoal grills and barbecues. They do this as there’s a number of safety issues with them. If it’s a very hot day then the hot air coming off the grill could ignite any trees nearby or the ash could blow into peoples apartments.

Summary

Your garden is what you make of it. You decide what you want it to look like, what you plan on doing in there and what additional accessories you need.

A nice garden can be made no matter what size it is, so spend some time making it unique and enjoyable.

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Comments

Leave a Reply

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Summer Garden Guide”

  • Aaron Bryan
    Aaron Bryan - 29th April 2019 at 5:31 pm

    Fantastic post guys. Never knew there was so much to think about getting the garden ready for summer!

  • Charles
    Charles - 30th April 2019 at 10:55 am

    We bought a hot tub ready for summer and never even gave a thought to winter. I guess if we get a shelter then we can use it all year round? Although I think I might have trouble convincing the wife that a plunge pool is a good idea :D

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