These days, home improvements are all the rage – you can’t move in the shops for all the candles, throws, air fresheners and other trinkets and accessories that are designed to make our properties just a little bit more comfortable and chic – and at an affordable price.
However, many of us are guilty of neglecting our outside space. It’s important to keep on top of gardens, terraces and balconies, not only so that we can enjoy them, but also because they can add significant value to a property – but only if they are presented correctly! So, whether you have several acres out back or just a small, private balcony, it’s worthwhile looking after your plot and ensuring that it looks loved – and that it suits your needs, too!
Get Your Garden, Terrace or Balcony Ready for Summer
Begin with a spring clean
Before you can even start to think about the pretty aspects, like new flowers, you need to tend to the more mundane jobs, such as weeding, mowing and cleaning. Be prepared that for a large garden, you will need to set aside at least a day for such work. For a balcony or small terrace, you might still need to spend a few hours scrubbing to make areas sparkle and ensure that all rubbish is cleared away. After that, you’ll have the blank canvas you need to start making further changes!
Time to refresh those plants
Almost everyone has a tired, tatty-looking planter or two that could do with some TLC. Now’s the time to invest in some new plants to liven up your space, whether this means filling a few pots or covering a larger area. A quick way of making sure that flower beds and hanging baskets are full of colour is to buy ready-grown plants from garden centres, rather than growing from seed, which is perhaps more rewarding, but requires more time and commitment. For bigger spaces, cheap wildflower and seasonal seed mixes can be great – look out for varieties that grow in a short space of time to ensure that they will be ready for the summer season.
The garden space that feeds you
Tidiness, tick. Flowers, tick. Now, have you thought about growing some fruit and veg to see you through the summer period? If successful, this could save you money, too; for the price of a packet of seeds, you could have tomatoes for the whole summer, for instance.
While it’s true that it may be getting a bit late to sow seeds for summer crops now, you can ‘cheat’ by buying pre-grown plants or bushes for a slightly higher price (pick something that will come back next year for an even better saving) or look for late varieties of seeds that will come to fruition at the end of the season – you’ll still get the benefit of lovely flowers over the summer from such fruits and vegetables. And there are always fast-growing crops like spinach, rocket and chard to bear in mind, which come up within a couple of weeks and grow more prolifically if you pick them regularly – so there’s really no excuse not to try!
How about some furniture to go with that?
Nothing is as off-putting in an outside space as a rusty, broken old bench or a sodden, ripped beanbag chair. Before you invite your guests round, invest in some new, stylish seating that will see you through this summer and beyond. If your balcony or patio is tiny, look at ways of storing your furniture as well, so that you don’t have to leave it cluttering up the space at all times. Even if your garden is massive, think about covering up your wooden and metal items to protect them from our changeable British weather – this should extend their life by many years.
Not quite got the budget to upgrade your outside table and chairs? Why not upcycle instead? For the price of a pot of paint and an afternoon’s work, you can transform tired-looking furniture into something bright, funky and new. Better still, you can get away with crazy colours in the garden, so go for whatever you fancy!
Keep up the good work
You might be faced with what seems like a mammoth task when you set about your gardening project. However, the job will be much smaller next year if you can keep on top of your handiwork regularly by picking weeds, watering plants, trimming lawns and clearing up rubbish as you go – even half an hour a week can go a long way to ensuring your outside area looks inviting all year round! Even better, when we get that hoped-for Indian Summer in September or October, you’ll still be able to enjoy a cheeky barbecue without having to pick through rubbish, overgrown vegetation and broken furniture to do it!
Posted by Simon on May 26th, 2010
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