With lockdown restrictions easing coinciding with a spell of brighter, warmer weather, it’s hard not to feel a little more optimistic about summer this year. However, with socialising limited to gardens at the moment, just as we’re emerging from a cold and wet winter, your home's great outdoors might be looking a little less than great.
From cleaning up your garden to ensuring it is comfortable and cosy, we’ve pulled together our best ideas for optimising your outdoor space for entertaining your party of six.
1. Spring Clean Your Garden
Many of us neglect the garden clean-up over the winter months, so clearing up the fall-out from the colder months can be quite a task. Start by clearing up dead leaves which may affect your spring growing if left to rot on the soil. Take this chance to deadhead where necessary, while the task is manageable, and trim varieties that require it to help stimulate growth.
Before guests arrive you’ll want to sweep and possibly pressure wash the patio and decking too.
2. Blitz the Weeding
If you’re behind on your garden weeding, now is the time to clear them before you have visitors. There are many ways to tackle the task, from manually to using chemical weed killers.
3. Give Garden Furniture Some TLC
After a long winter, your garden furniture is going to require some love and attention, especially if you haven’t made use of furniture covers during the colder months. Plastic furniture is pretty simple to bring back into action with some soapy water and elbow grease, while timber furniture may need to be cleaned and re-oiled to ready it for another year of use.
4. Bring Colour to Your Garden with Planting
If you planted spring bulbs in autumn, you may already be seeing results in your garden. If not, you can still bring some colour to your garden by planting up some bulbs in the green — where the bulbs are planted when they already have some early spring leaves. They should still flower in the spring months.
5. Give the Lawn a Tidy Up
Time to tackle that overgrown lawn. Wait until the lawn is relatively dry to mow to avoid damaging the soil and cut on the highest setting to start out with. If your lawn is looking less than its best, give it a spring feed — this will also help prevent weeds and moss forming over the coming months.
(MORE: Best Lawnmowers)
6. Upgrade Your Garden Seating
With socialising strictly limited to the garden under new social distancing rules, it’s important to have outdoor seating to meet all your entertaining requirements. A cosy seating area, made up of an outdoor sofa or built-in seating will ensure everyone can relax in the garden.
For extra comfort, make sure you have plenty of scatter cushions around - whether they’re borrowed from indoors or you invest in outdoor fabrics that can withstand a sudden change in weather.
7. Make Space for Alfresco Dining
To create the right outdoor dining area, consider how you like to eat outside. If it’s a more formal affair, a dining table and chairs is a must, however, if you’re happy with a more relaxed entertaining experience, think about adding outdoor coffee tables and side tables to your cosy seating set-up to make casual eating easier.
8. Create Cover for All Weathers
With entertaining family and friends weather dependent at the moment, ensuring your outdoor space has overhead cover when needed is key. Whether it’s a gazebo, awning or umbrella, this will provide shelter from rain and shade from sun, ensuring your garden is still usable in each weather extreme.
9. Look at Your Lighting Set-Up
The key to a cosy garden in the evening is your lighting scheme. Turn off the security lights and make sure you have non-direct, ambient lighting to cast a glow around your garden, while also considering adding safety lighting around paths and water features to ensure your guests can safely navigate your garden in the darker hours.
(MORE: Garden Lighting Ideas)
10. Pick Up a Patio Heater
While the weather may be picking up, it’s still early in the year, so both days and evenings can still be quite chilly. A patio heater is a great option for use day or night, making it much more pleasant to be spending time outdoors while popping indoors to warm up isn’t an option.
11. Get Cosy Around a Fire Pit
Another brilliant heat source for your garden is a fire pit or outdoor log burner. Not only do these offer warmth to your outdoor space, they provide brilliant ambience for outdoor spaces — not to mention the option for roasting marshmallows.
12. Plant Night-Scented Flowers for Ambience
We love the idea of choosing varieties of planting that give off a beautiful scent in the evening to add to the atmosphere of your garden when entertaining at night. Honeysuckle, wisteria and star jasmine are just a few of the night-time scented flowers you could choose from.
13. Build a Garden Bar
With pubs not open for a little while longer, the garden bar has become a new staple of the social garden. Ready-to-build kits abound, but they’re a simple structure to construct with materials from your local DIY store, or by upcycling existing furniture.
Make sure to treat wood with weatherproofing so that it can endure the occasional shower.
14. Try Out an Outdoor Projector
While sitting around the TV on a Saturday night altogether may be off the cards for a little while longer, why not try out an outdoor projector to watch films as a family in the garden?
To save costs on a fancy projector screen, pin up a white bed sheet for the same effect.
(MORE: Best Outdoor Projectors)
15. Consider Your Outdoor Kitchen
If you’re planning on entertaining a lot in your garden over the next few months, why not upgrade that old BBQ for something more exciting? Outdoor pizza ovens are growing in popularity, while outdoor grills can offer better, more efficient results for cooking alfresco.
(MORE: Best Pizza Ovens)
Outdoor kitchens are big news for those who love to socialise in their gardens, incorporating cooking, prep surface and other clever appliances and amenities too.
Hugh is Digital Editor of homebuilding.co.uk and has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating a Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. His current project is a kitchen renovation which involves knocking through walls and landscaping a courtyard garden.
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