Update your garden
Do you have a backyard and want to use it to its full potential? There are lots of ways that you can improve your garden either by making it more practical or improving its appearance. Here are just 10 garden improvement ideas to consider.
Brighten it up
If your garden seems a little gloomy, your first improvement project could be to brighten it up.
This could be to do with the colour scheme of your garden – dark fence panels and a lack of greenery are certain to make your backyard look dark and depressing. Add some colourful flora and consider painting the fences white. This will immediately make your garden appear more vibrant.
Your garden could also be gloomy due to a lack of natural light. This could caused by surrounding houses, or it could be to do with objects within your garden. Big trees and high fencing or walls could be blocking the sun from getting into your garden. Where possible you could try to cut these obstacles back. Alternatively, you could install some mirrors to help reflect light or use artificial lighting.
All gardens can benefit from artificial lighting, allowing you to stay outdoors in the evenings. Solar lighting is a cheap and easy option. For added brightness, there are also wall-mounted lights and fairy lights that can be wired from the house as well as battery operated lanterns that can be placed for more flexibly. You could even install floodlights. Then of course, there are more rustic options like candle lanterns.
Create a social space
Whether you’re inviting guests round for a party or fancy having family meals al fresco, having a designated social space can be worthwhile. You ideally want a solid surface that can be easily cleaned such as decking or a patio. To provide shelter from the sun and rain, it could also be worth putting up a gazebo or a few tables with patio umbrellas. You could even extend the roof and convert the space into an outdoor entertaining area. There are lots of options.
It’s worth investing in some strong and durable garden furniture. Different materials have different positive properties – the likes of cast iron won’t blow away in a storm but are very expensive. Plastic meanwhile is the cheapest material but is prone to weather damage more easily. A good mid-range material is wood – the likes of teak and cedar are two of the most reliable timbers.
For the evenings, it could be worth considering a heating option. Patio heaters are one example and can run on gas or be solar powered. There are also more natural options such as a chiminea or a fire pit.
Of course, no social space can be complete without a barbecue. Coal barbecues are the cheapest option, although are the least convenient to use – those looking for convenience may prefer paying extra for a gas or electric barbecue. You can often get the best deals on barbecues by buying them out of season.
Up your outdoor storage
Many of us have garden sheds, but these are often small and cluttered. Consider upgrading your shed so that you can fit more in it. This is important if you’re going to be buying garden furniture and a barbecue, as you’ll want somewhere to put cushions and bags of charcoal.
You could even consider building an outdoor summer house. This could be a place for chilling in the summer, as well as providing extra storage.
Make it more kid-friendly
If you have children, you could make some improvements to help encourage them to play outside. This could include adding more garden toys such as slides, swings, a trampoline or a paddling pool. If you grow plants and don’t want these getting damaged, consider creating a special kid-friendly zone.
You could even take on a project such as a rope swing from a branch or a treehouse. The latter option may require getting planning permission, as many trees are now protected. There are lots of treehouse designs online to give you inspiration.
Grow your own produce
If you’ve ever fancied living more organically, you could try growing your own produce. This could involve digging up a vegetable patch. Designate an area of your garden to use as this patch and mulch up the soil, taking care to remove any weeds. Alternatively, you could erect a greenhouse to grow plants in.
Growing your own produce is something that you can get into at any time of the year – the likes of onions, garlic and peas can be planted as late as autumn or winter. Make sure that you’ve got enough natural light coming into your garden and take measures to deter weeds and unwanted pests.
On top of plants, you could even go the extra mile and keep chickens or bees. This could result in access to fresh eggs and honey.
Encourage local wildlife
If you want more wildlife to enter your garden, you could make a few improvements to help attract them to your backyard.
Building a pond is a great way to encourage many animals including frogs and dragonflies. You can also buy your own fish to put in it. Ponds require a lot of maintenance including regular cleaning and filling up. If you’ve got fish, they’ll need to be fed in the hot months (in the winter, they have a much slower metabolism and can often survive on pond algae).
Another option to attract local wildlife could be to install a birdfeeder. This could be hanging from a post or from a branch. Bird baths can be a similarly inviting feature.
On top of this, consider the types of plants in your garden. Plants like lavender and sage are brilliant for attracting bees and butterflies. Leafy trees meanwhile will provide an excellent place for birds and squirrels to nest.
Deter unwanted pests
There are likely to be animals you don’t want in your garden. These may include slugs and snails, which can chew through your plants. Whilst you can use chemical pesticides, many of these also deter friendly insects likes bees and butterflies. Consider using other methods such as salt spraying plants or setting up beer traps.
As for biting and stinging insects like wasps and mosquitoes, there are also ways of deterring these pests. Wasps can sometimes be scared off by hanging up a crumpled paper bag. The wasps think that it’s another nest and steer clear. Mosquitoes meanwhile can be warded off by scents such as citronella, as well as smoke from barbecues and fires.
Improve your garden’s security
You might also want to take steps to stop burglars entering your garden. The first step should be to put a lock on your shed. Make sure that any valuables such as expensive barbecues and lawnmowers are stored in here. Meanwhile, consider burglar-proofing your fencing. Latticing can stop people climbing your fence as easily, whilst anti-climb paint can also be effective.
Lighting may also help to deter burglars. This could include a motion-sensing floodlight that catches any burglars in the act. There are even motion-sensing traps that squirt water – largely used for deterring cats, but just as useful for surprising burglars.
It could be worth making some eco-friendly improvements to your garden. If you currently water plants using tap water or a hose, consider harvesting rainwater instead. Rainwater is full of nutritious minerals that are healthy for plants. This could be collected in a rain barrel.
Having a compost heap is also an eco-friendly alternative to buying fertiliser. By recycling dead plants, you can collect your own free soil. It could be worth buying a special container to put this compost in – this can prevent animals nesting in it.
Go low maintenance
If you’re not green-fingered but want a garden that’s presentable, you could consider a few improvements that will reduce your work in the long run.
One option could be to replace your natural lawn with artificial grass. This won’t need to be mowed every few months, nor will you need to bring out a sprinkler when the temperature starts to heat up. Artificial grass is becoming more popular in households and could in fact up the value of your property.
Other low maintenance tricks could include carefully choosing materials and finishes for sheds and garden furniture. Galvanised metal sheds can require much less upkeep than wooden sheds – they can last five years without needing refinishing. When it comes to garden furniture meanwhile, consider synthetic options that won’t be easily worn down by the weather.