Well folks, May Day weekend is almost upon us and despite the recent cooler climes we’ve all been exposed to over the last little while, I’m told that warmer weather is on its way, so I thought it was the perfect time for a brief garden-related post. Specifically, I want to share some ideas with you on how you can spend some time over the long weekend getting your outdoor patio area or yard summer-ready. As long as it’s been given a quick clean up and the boring jobs such as power washing slabs and giving the lawn its first cut are out of the way, these are the fun touches you can accomplish in time for your first al fresco soiree with friends or simply a glass of vino and a book on a clear evening. Aah, how I love summer!
// LITTLE DETAILS //
Try to think of your outdoor space, be it a patio, yard or patch of grass, as an extension of your home and apply the same decorating principles to it. So, arrange your outdoor table and chairs as you would in your kitchen, perhaps with a collection of potted herbs set onto the centre of the table and some little tealight lanterns dotted about, too. Arrange your larger potted plants in such a way that they help to create ‘zones’ within the space and never be afraid to bring groups of plants in from the edge of the patio area to create an interesting feature of their own. It’ll be more aesthetically pleasing and will make the overall space appear larger. Just make sure you mix up the heights and leaf sizes, so for example, a large fern beside a tall bamboo and some colourful hydrangeas in front.
Think outside the box when it comes to styling your outdoor area. Prop up an oversized mirror to create an illusion of more space and to reflect back all the lovely lushness and greenery from the further corners of the garden. Make some simple wreaths using flexible branches from the garden and hang them up with garden twine from trees, on the back door or on a fence – you could even string some fairy lights around them for a beautiful feature.
Set out an old side table beside a garden bench or chair for somewhere to set your drink or a spot of lunch whilst you relax outdoors. A lantern or some ceramic pots filled with flowers placed on top will set the mood. Or how about some carefully chosen ornamental additions for the garden patio? Buddha heads, glass lanterns, vintage signage, metal wind chimes and painted vases can all be used to great effect outdoors – just decide on your overall look, then experiment to your heart’s content. TK Maxx has an amazing collection of garden homewares, including cushions, ceramic ornaments, metal lanterns and birdhouses. Again, it’s about making a magical space outside as you would inside…
Keep the local wildlife and your eco-conscious side happy with lots of bird feeders hanging from tree branches or create an insect hotel from piled up bricks, logs and old bamboo canes – it’s another interesting feature in the garden, adding lots of texture too with all those beautifully rustic, organic materials.
// KEEPING IT COSY //
No outdoor chillout space is complete without decent seating covered with plenty of plump cushions, throws and blankets. Let’s face it, we live in a country where balmy summer evenings are not exactly the norm, so even on a fine evening, you’ll be needing a layer of blankets to wrap up in whilst you watch the sun setting. Grab a roomy wicker basket and fill it with blankets, be they faux fur, wool or quilted, in fact the more textures, the better.
Don’t worry if your patio furniture has seen better days – it can usually come up trumps with a lick of paint or you can embrace the rustic look – with some coloured cushions and mixed up pieces of furniture, it’ll look so relaxed and inviting. Bring out old chairs from the depths of the garage or pick up second hand wicker furniture pieces and place them around your garden in spots where you’re likely to enjoy sitting – with that morning cuppa in the first rays of sun, at the patio doors or your favourite spot under the tree at the bottom of the garden.
Another way of zoning the patio area is to lay out a couple of outdoor rugs. Wayfair UK has a fabulous selection, as does IKEA, with many of its cheaper rugs being perfectly suitable for outdoor use. Striking monochrome designs and boldly colourful ethnic rugs look brilliant outdoors, with all that gorgeous greenery and stoney patio surfaces as a backdrop.
If you are lucky enough to possess a fire pit, get it going at weekends, whether it’s just for you to relax beside or especially if you’re having some friends over. Set it with adequate seating arranged around it and make sure to have a stack of logs and firewood nearby.
// COLOUR + TEXTURE //
Consider your colour palette when choosing potted plants and layer them up so that different leaf sizes, shapes and colours sit together and ooze textural interest. Include plenty of trailing varieties – perhaps set up higher above your outdoor dining area – as well as climbers, to create a cocooning effect around you. Decide which colours are your favourite and stick to them – a rash of colour can look pretty in a gardening magazine, but in reality, keeping it simple will mean lots less maintenance and added sophistication.
Display plants and blooms in unique containers, such as old metal troughs for an industrial edge or vintage wooden crates and tins for a more eclectic vibe. There really are no rules!
// LIGHTING, LIGHTING & MORE LIGHTING //
This is the finishing touch that you must not overlook when styling your outdoor space. Good lighting outside, as inside, makes everything look better and will simply bring your garden to life at night, with twinkling lights set amongst the trees and shrubs creating a magical display.
Hang tealights in glass jam jars from the trees, festoon strings of bulbs across your terrace and light up a beautiful climber with fairy lights intertwined along its vines. Place big Moroccan style lanterns at ground level, with smaller ones on higher surfaces, be it your patio table or along windowsills. Lights can illuminate pale coloured flowers and leaves in the evening so consider this when setting them out, as it really will look stunning when the sun goes down.
Have a fabulous long weekend everyone and enjoy playing about with that amazing outdoor space you have… just think of the pay-off come those long summer evenings, balmy or not :)
If you liked this, you may also enjoy reading: